RTI and Duke University hosted guests from the India Institute of Technology (IIT) for a day of networking, to expand research partnerships aimed at addressing complex global issues. Four students from Duke and four from IIT, along with faculty advisors from both universities, joined RTI researchers for a day of activities that included assisting with the testing of a new combustion unit that RTI’s partners at Colorado State University have been developing for the burning and energy capture of dried human waste.
The larger automated toilet system that RTI is developing through funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to simultaneously disinfect and recycle liquid waste while drying and combusting solid waste, was introduced to the students followed by the operation of the combustor – first using wood pellets as fuel, followed by dried feces mixed with wood pellets then finally pure feces.
The students – coming from various engineering disciplines including Civil, Environmental and Chemical – collected data surrounding the air quality of the combustor’s exhaust, which is part of a larger discussion regarding the harvesting of energy from trash and human waste.
The gathering was a complete success for everyone involved! Here are some reactions from participants:
“I am thrilled to be working with RTI and 2 top universities in India on this collaborative project. The students are thoughtful and ambitious, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.” – Heidi Vreeland (PhD student, Duke University)
“I am a student of Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar. Just recently, Duke University and RTI International sowed seeds of research and academic collaboration with IIT Gandhinagar. I attended one lecture by Mr. Brian Stoner on his visit to India and I was amazed to see their research goals and success. They have chosen a growing Tier-II city in India which, I think is very necessary as cities like these are home to rising middle class of India and face serious toilet challenges. I was selected to be a part of the team for the Trash combustor project and was invited for a 3 day joint workshop at Duke University in the second week of July. It was an amazing experience to interact and share my ideas with so many bright minds. We were given some basic hands-on training to operate equipments that we will need when we will conduct field research in Ahmedabad in December. I am excited to meet them again in India and work with them in the near future. I hope our relations continue to grow stronger and better.” – Anmol Kishore Raina, Junior Undergraduate, Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar