Tuesday February 19, 2019
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How Zero Discharge Toilet Systems can solve India’s sanitation woes

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By Rituparna Chakrobarty

In the rail budget, the Government had announced its plans to convert regular toilets into biological ones. To help government over come this challenge, Indian Institute Of Technology(IIT)-Kanpur’s Dr. Vinod Tare worked on this idea and came up with  Zero Discharge Toilet System which not only saves water but also converts human waste into fertilizers.

‘Ministry of Indian Railways approached Dr. Vinod Tare of Indian Institute Of Technology(IIT)-Kanpur and asked to develop biodegradable toilets which  avoid direct dumping of fluids on the tracks and cause less pollution. The institute invented Zero Discharge Toilet System (ZDTS), but since then no government body has approached us.’ said Rakesh Mishra, deputy project manager at IIT-K.

‘If these toilets are adopted soon into the railways then it would be a big step towards clean environment under the Swachch Bharat campaign,’ Mishra added.

What is ZDTS?

ZDTS stands Zero Discharge Toilets, and are different from other toilets which are used in houses and offices. Normal toilets discharge the effluents or water but ZDTS does not discharge any fecal matter or water or anything through it.

How does it work?

ZDTS collects all the fecal matter which is then vermicomposed. The waste becomes organic fertilizer and is free from pathogens. The amount of water which is used for flushing is very minimal and the used water gets stored into the tank for reuse. These toilets are mobile as well as stationery.

Cost and maintenance

About the cost, Mishra said that the installation charges vary from place to place like from community toilets, public toilets to railway toilets.

While talking to NewsGram, Mishra said that after the completion of ZDTS project with collaboration from UNICEF, these toilets were installed as community toilets in Aligarh for two years.

Greatest Achievement

During Maha Kumbh at Allahabad in the year 2012, approximately 300 such toilets were installed which were used by 3000-4000 people on daily basis. In 2015, on the occasion of MaghMela at Allahabad these toilets were used again to save the water body from getting polluted.

At present Samnvay, an NGO has taken the initiative to promote these toilets and help in operating and maintenance.

 

 

 

Next Story

Researchers Look for Alternatives To Chemical Fertilizers for a Cleaner Environment

Too many nutrients in the water leads to poor water quality by causing hazardous algal blooms.

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Fertilizers
A farming woman spreads fertilizer in a paddy field. Flickr

Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Chemical fertilizers require huge amounts of energy to produce. But there are other, natural and more readily available sources.

The University of Michigan, with support from the National Science Foundation, is working at making our water cleaner, and our agriculture more sustainable, by capturing one of those sources, rather than flushing it down the toilet.

On a hot summer afternoon near Brattleboro, Vermont, farmer Dean Hamilton has fired up his tractor and is fertilizing his hay field — with human urine.

It takes a bit of time to get used to, says environmental engineer Nancy Love.

“I’ve been surprised at how many people actually get beyond the giggle factor pretty quickly,” she said, “and are willing to listen.”

Fine-tuning the recycling

Rich Earth Institute, a nonprofit, is working with Love and her team. Abraham Noe-Hays says they are fine-tuning new methods to recycle urine into fertilizer.

“There’s a great quote by Buckminster Fuller about how pollution is nothing but the resources that we’re not harvesting, and that we allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value,” he said.

Harvesting the resource of urine — which is, after all, full of the same nutrients as chemical fertilizer — will fix two problems at once: eliminate waste and create a natural fertilizer.

The Rich Earth Institute has been using urine as fertilizer since 2012. Kim Nace says they collect about 26,000 liters a year, thanks to a loyal group of dedicated donors.

“We now have people who have some source-separating toilets in their homes. We also have people who have 55 gallon (200-liter) barrels where they collect and then we transport to our farms, and we’ve also got a large urine depot,” Nace said.

`fertilizers
Fertilizers. Wikimedia Commons

They pasteurize the urine to kill any microbes, and then it is applied directly onto hay fields like Hamilton’s.

Next level of project

Now that they’ve partnered with the University of Michigan, Love says they’re looking to take their project to the next level.

“There are three things we really are trying to do with the urine in this kind of next phase. We’re trying to concentrate it. We’re trying to apply technologies to reduce odor, and we’re trying to deal with trace contaminants like the pharmaceuticals,” she said.

Dealing with pharmaceuticals is an important issue. Heat urine kills germs but has no effect on chemicals like drugs that pass through our bodies.

“We know pharmaceuticals are a problem for aquatic organisms and water systems,” Love said. “It’s debatable about the impact on human health at very, very low levels. Independent of that, I think most people would prefer that they not be in their food.”

Fertilizers
Farmer Scott Halpin is facing another year of high prices for seed and fertilizer, and low prices for the corn and soybeans his family is planting on farmland outside Morris, Illinois.

21st century infrastructure

For Love, this is all about redesigning our wastewater infrastructure for the 21st century. Too many nutrients in the water leads to poor water quality by causing hazardous algal blooms.

“Our water emissions are going into very sensitive water bodies that are vulnerable to these nutrient loads,” she said. “We need to change that dynamic. And if we can capture them and put them to a beneficial use, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Also Read: Common Plastic Chemical May Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Their efforts could make agriculture greener and our waterways cleaner. (VOA)