University physicists study urine splash-back and offer best tactics for men (w/ Video)

November 7th, 2013 by Bob Yirka in Physics / Soft Matter
University physicists study urine splash-back and offer best tactics for men (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —A team of four physicists at Brigham Young University (calling themselves "wizz-kids") has been studying the physics properties of urine splash-back in a urinal-like environment. Their mission was to uncover the fluid dynamics involved in male peeing and to hopefully discern which approach leads to the least amount of splash-back (and less mess). They will be presenting their results at the American Physical Society Meeting later this month.

It's a problem males have dealt with since the advent of clothes and porcelain toilets—letting fly at the urinal inevitably results in some splash-back onto the floor, or worse, trousers. To better understand the problem, the team at BYU set up a water tank and nozzles (emitting colored water) to mimic the natural flow of human urine as it leaves the body. They then filmed the action using . Scrutiny of the video allowed the team to clearly see which sorts of techniques cause the most, or least splash-back. They also set up another tank to mimic sitting on a toilet to pee, rather than standing at a urinal.

In analyzing their results, the researchers found that sitting on a toilet, as most men well know, results in the least amount of splash-back (the contact point is much closer). They also discovered something likely few men have considered—that urine follows what is known as the Plateau-Rayleigh instability—where a pee stream breaks up into drops before striking something else. That's the worst thing that can happen, the team reports, because each drop creates splash-back. To avoid that, men should stand as close to the urinal as possible they advise. Also helpful is directing the stream to hit the back of the urinal at a downward angle. That creates less splash-back and the drops that do bounce, head downwards into the urinal drain. Conversely, to prevent messing one's trousers (or angering neighbors) they suggest men not spray directly into the urinal or into the pool that forms at the bottom of the urinal, both cause a lot of splash-back.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
The importance of good technique when using a urinal illustrated and some advice offered. Through high-speed video footage of a simulated male urine stream the researchers show that reduced splash can be achieved by aiming at a vertical surface, moving closer to the urinal and by decreasing the impact angle.

The team also report that they also found that many detergents used to clean urinals tend to make the problem of splash-back worse because it reduces surface tension. Thus dirtier urinals might be less messy.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This stream of water is a simulated urine stream entering a body of water similar to a toilet. The amount of splash is considerable and should make one reconsider standing up to urinate. The repeated impact of the droplets opens up a large and interesting cavity with multiple ridges. Each droplet forms a small cavity wherein the next droplet can pass through and form a cavity an additional cavity creating a chain of small cavity structures. Splash is formed both from the initial impact as well as the collapse of this large cavity. The process repeats itself over and over creating a real mess.

More information: 1. The presentation, "The Hydrodynamics of Urination: to drip or jet," is at 5:24 p.m. on Sunday, November 24, 2013 in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Room 333. ABSTRACT: meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD13/Event/202555

2. The presentation, "Urinal Dynamics," is at 5:11 p.m. on Sunday, November 24, 2013 in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Room 333. ABSTRACT: meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD13/Event/202554

3. splashlab.byu.edu/

4. Press release

© 2013 Phys.org

"University physicists study urine splash-back and offer best tactics for men (w/ Video)." November 7th, 2013. http://phys.org/news/2013-11-university-physicists-urine-splash-back-tactics.html