2013 Melbourne Design Awards

Mittstrom- Mid Stream Urine Collection [DRAFT]

Image Credit : Imagery: Charlwood Design


Project Overview

Mittstrom is an innovative device to assist with the hygenic collection of midstream urine for pathology analysis. It is a low cost, fully biodegradable saddle made from corn starch into which a standard pathology collection jar is placed. Early stream urine is diverted away from the jar by a thin cornstarch membrane which dissolves over a period of 3 seconds and then allows the midstream urine to flow into the collection vial. Once collection is complete the user simply removes the filled jar and flushes the device down the toilet. This innovative product has been granted patents internationally

Project Commissioner


Project Creator

Charlwood Design


Charlwood Design team
- Paul Charlwood (director), Luca Abate (lead designer)

Project Brief

Mittstrom is a simple, user-friendly, low-cost solution to the common problem of collecting an accurate urine sample.
The current urine collection process is often messy and difficult. A mid stream sample is required as samples can be contaminated by bacteria so the initial flow, which may be contaminated is discarded first. Midstream collection reduces contamination rates (and costs associated with re-testing by pathology labs), but can be unhygienic, with spillage onto hands and the outer surfaces of the collection jar. A clean sample ensures accurate analysis. Currently up to 56% of tests collected have some contamination which may need to be retested adding to costs and time.

The design team was tasked to create a low-cost solution that could be securely attached to the toilet, hold the collection jar and keep it dry, automatically divert the initial urine (3 seconds) and collect a clean mid-stream sample. The collection device then needed to be hygienically disposed of.

Project Need

Device easily and securely attached via specially formulated “post-it” biodegradable adhesive applied to two tabs. It can fit toilets of varying sizes and depths easily. The jar can be easily placed in it’s saddle and held securely to remain dry and clean throughout the collection process.

Patient simply urinates normally on to the ergonomically designed catchment area. The urine hits a barrier that diverts initial urine before dissolving after 3 seconds. The remaining mid-stream urine then fills the jar that is held on an angle to allow for overflow. Previously it was common for the user to stop and start urinating in order to collect the sample which is distressing and difficult – especially children, elderly, pregnant or disabled patients.

The device is made from a biodegradable cornstarch material that can be hygienically flushed away for disposal. The design team refined the shape of the device to give maximum strength where needed, as well controlling the thickness in the dissolving wall to get an accurate, predictable dissolving time. The unique form of the device has been shaped to aid flushability.

Design Challenge

Charlwood Design’s solution was able to address the client’s challenging brief. Their empathetic process started with the ideal scenario first developing a solution that filters the urine automatically and can be flushed away when finished.

This was quite a task that called on the designers to draw on all the tools available, from storyboarding, consulting with specialists/patients, developing mockups/3d printed prototypes, material science and sourcing, designing the tooling, clinical testing and short run production. The key-breakthrough was finding a material that was able to perform as required and innovatively using all it’s properties to our advantage.


Mittstrom is made from a fully biodegradable and compostable cornstarch material. It is made from renewable, non-genetically modified feedstocks.

As the device is designed to be flushed after use it is processed within the sewerage stream, where carbon is collected and offset.
A specially formulated adhesive, based on natural latex is used to attach the device to the toilet seat.

This award celebrates creative and innovative design for either a component or overall product. Consideration given to aspects that relate to human usage, aesthetics, selection of components and materials, and the resolution of assembly, manufacturing and the overall function.
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