Tag Archives: solid waste processing

“Holistic approach to sanitation issues”

A recent post on dailypioneer.com by M Venkaiah Naidu talks of a more holistic approach being needed to achieve total sanitation in India. There no doubting the progress that’s been achieved since the Swachch Bharat Mission was launched in 2014.

“This is reflected in the physical progress achieved under the mission until now, which includes the construction of 29,18,669 individual household toilets and 1,10,665 community and public toilets across all cities and towns.”

But a critical next step, as Naidu points out, is the handling of waste – more specifically, solid waste. This is where the holistic approach referenced in the article comes into play.  As ODF slowly but surely becomes a social practice of the past, India needs to come up with safe, and effective handling and processing of all of the fecal sludge services hadn’t been collecting until recently.

“With 475 cities certified Open Defecation Free (ODF), it is equally critical to put our efforts towards the safe collection, treatment and disposal of all human waste that is collected from onsite sanitation systems such as septic tanks, in order to achieve safe, sustainable sanitation for all.”

While it’s always heartening to see progress in India, that very same progress is also shedding light on how complicated it is to bring proper, safe, and total sanitation to every human on the planet.  Luckily, many cities and municipalities in India are beginning to show up to face this task.

“To address this issue, the Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry is committed to helping States and cities make rapid improvements in managing their faecal sludge, and has launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, which focuses on the provision of sewerage facilities and septage management in 500 cities across the country.”

The whole piece worth a read. It gives some interesting insight to FSM and the challenges ahead. Read the entire article by clicking right here.

Prototype Update, 16 December 2016

Solid System Update

In the video below, our very own Stef Teleski takes us on walk through of the current system setup that we have, to deal with solid waste.

In it, she covers the system as a whole, the addition of springs to the scraper on the heat plate, as well recent modifications that have made our solid waste treatment more efficient.

Have a look:

An Important Milestone For Our Project Has Been Reached!

One of the core responsibilities of RTI’s system, now under development, is to separate liquid waste from solid waste. Once separated, the solid waste is then convectively dried and delivered to a combustion system. The waste heat from the combustion system is converted to electricity using thermoelectric modules which, in turn, power the entire toilet.

We are happy to announce the that our alpha system, currently housed on CEPT campus in Ahmedabad, has produced real dried poop pellets and successfully completed a full burn, incinerating them!

burncropped

This is quite the milestone for our project and we couldn’t be happier for reaching it!

How Our Toilet Handles Solid Waste…

Many innovative toilets are being conceptualized, built, and field tested these days. And while many of them have waste treatment incorporated into their functionality, they often don’t have that waste treatment occur on-site. Human interaction is often needed to transfer the waste from the toilet to either an off-site treatment facility, a large processor like the Janicki Omniprocessor, a mass-scale biodigester or, in the worst situations, to a nearby water source.

In this regard, we aimed to get rid of the reliance on human interaction entirely. With our toilet, waste is processed completely onsite within the unit itself, without it ever coming in contact with human hands. Our system doesn’t require piped-in water, a sewer connection, or outside electricity: it’s a completely closed and off-grid. And with its smaller footprint, it can be placed in many different locations around the world where much larger waste treatment solutions could never fit. Here’s how it works.

Waste treatment starts with the immediate diversion of liquid and solid waste. When anyone uses our toilet and flushes, the waste is washed down onto a slotted conveyer belt that separates the liquids from the solids.

waste_separation

Once that is complete, the conveyer belt engages and moves the solids into an actuator that mixes the solids into a slurry.

actuator

That mixture then gets pressed through a much smaller tube where it is heated, dried, and turned into small pellets. The pellets are then pushed into a tumbler to be dried further before being dropped into a chamber that contains a corkscrew.

pellets

Feces_Pellets1

This corkscrew then pushes the pellets uphill (drying them even further), before dropping them into an incinerator where they are burned to a fine ash. This ash can either be discarded safely, or used as fertilizer for feeding plants or crops.

corkscrew

burning_pellets

Additionally, the heat generated from drying and incinerating the solid waste, produces energy that is harvested and stored to power the system itself.

harvested_energy

Aside from clearing the ash out periodically (or occasional mechanical maintenance), our toilet system manages waste completely on its own. A closed system, providing total on-site treatment of human waste.

It is a clean, safe, healthier solution for anyone to use with dignity and confidence.

Treating Waste Needs a Variety of Solutions…

In a previous post we encouraged people to focus on waste treatment when considering new toilet technologies. It’s of vital importance that we find creative and efficient ways to deal with waste. Without a doubt, keeping human waste out of our water supply, containing it until it can be treated, is one of the biggest issues we face at the moment.

Luckily the world is moving forward and making progress in this regard.  And it’s popular too!  The news lately has been filled with results from the best minds on the planet. Whether you are keen on watching Bill Gates drink “poop water” from the Janicki Omniprocessor:

Or you are interested in reading about China’s massive effort to process fecal sludge into fertilizer or biogas (an estimated 6,800 tons of human excrement, daily, in Beijing alone!!) for reuse amongst their people.  It’s clear that the world is seeing waste treatment as an opportunity – both on a humanitarian level, and a lucrative level as well.

A sewage treatment plant in China.

But many of the solutions in the news are massive in scale. Both in the literal space they take up and on the shear amount of waste they treat. They also typically cater to situations with existing waste treatment infrastructure.

In many cases where the situation is much, much smaller in scale, these solutions are impractical.

That’s why the diversity of the Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” initiative is so important. In addition to these massive scale projects, we also need solutions that can be dropped in remote areas. Solutions that can fit within a tiny village and slums with inevitably tight spaces. Small scale solutions that cater to smaller communities are more affordable, versatile, and appropriate to the situation at hand – which is often places with absolutely no infrastructure for waste capture, let alone treatment.

The aim of our toilet project is to create a complete waste treatment solution that fits (spatially, and logistically) into that smaller scale need. We are creating a toilet that can be placed almost anywhere in the world. A solution that will not only give people privacy, safety and dignity, but will also turn their urine into water for cleaning and agriculture and turn their feces into harmless ash that can be used as fertilizer. In these cases, a small footprint is key to getting these solutions to the people that desperately need them.

The issue of waste treatment is incredibly diverse. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. That’s why it’s so important to see the recent media attention being given to those groups stepping up to the plate, trying to address this issue on both a massive and small scale.