Saturday September 22, 2018

Pulluvila: a sleepy Kerala hamlet has earned place on global sanitation map

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Thiruvananthapuram: Pulluvila, a sleepy hamlet located close to the airport here, has earned a place for itself on the global sanitation map — it boasts of the world’s first eToilet, which also uses technology that turns waste into fertilizer, generates power, and even makes potable water.

Since January, a local church-run school here is successfully hosting a pilot project where over 150 students use two eToilets that have incorporated technology developed by the University of South Florida (USF) called NEWgenerator — with NEW standing for nutrients, energy and water.

This is the first time that the award-winning automated electronic toilet, or eToilet — developed by local firm Eram Scientific Solutions using a Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation grant — has been married to the NEWgen technology, also funded by grants from the foundation.

Eram’s eToilets see the convergence of electronics, mechanical, web-mobile technologies to control the entry, usage, cleaning, exit, and remote monitoring of the toilet. And NEWgen is a machine in a box that recycles water, harvests energy, creates fertilizers and, ultimately, turns waste into profit.

In simple terms, said Anvar Sadath, CEO of Eram, what NEWGen does is to process the entire waste from the two eToilets.

“The water that comes out as waste from the toilets is recycled and goes back in and is used for flushing, while the solid waste is converted into nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which can be stored and used as fertilizers. The gas from urine is converted into methane and can be used for burning,” Sadath told IANS.

The eToilet itself is revolutionary. A coin opens the door for the user and switches on a light — thus saving energy — and directs the person with audio commands. It is programmed to flush 1.5 liters of water after three minutes of usage or 4.5 liters if usage is longer. They are also programmed to clean the platform with a complete wash down after 10 or so uses.

Eram is the sole manufacturer of eToilets in India and has set up more than 1,600 eToilets in around 19 states.

“With our experience in successfully inducting high technology into the sanitation sector and simplifying it for the user, we are confident that this integrated system will be adopted for its simplicity and mass scalability,” said Sadath.

The Pulluvila pilot project is part of an India-specific program modelled on the Gates Foundation’s global Reinvent the Toilet Challenge and is called RTTC-India.

Daniel H. Yeh, associate professor at USF’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, first came up with the idea of a “resource-recovery machine” while he was working on his post-doctorate at Stanford University.

“So what that means is it converts the waste materials — either human waste or food waste, various types of wastewater,” Yeh is quoted as saying on the USF website. “We will convert that to beneficial products: nutrients, energy and water.”

“We’re mimicking what nature does very efficiently, but in a very compact, engineered system, so nothing goes to waste and everything is repurposed.”

“Both Eram and USF are hopeful that the system would promote sustainable sanitation services for both the poor and urban regions. It is a truly inspirational next generation product that everyone will want to use in developed as well as developing nations,” said Yeh.

For these two organizations the biggest impetus was a statement that Bill Gates made in January 2015, after drinking a glass of recycled water.

“I watched the piles of faeces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result, a glass of delicious drinking water,” Gates had said.

“These words of his really pumped us and now this pilot project at Pulluvila is going to run till the end of this year, when we will sit down to take this to the next step of commercialization,” said Sadath. (Sanu George, IANS)

  • gauri

    at last some serous efforts in india find aplace on global map.

Next Story

Indian Catholic Nuns Call Out For Justice In Kerala

The protest, now in its sixth day in Kochi, Kerala's financial hub, is gathering momentum as the locals, activists, writers and politicians come out in support.

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Nuns hold placards during a protest demanding justice after an alleged sexual assault of a nun by a bishop in Kochi, in the southern state of Kerala, India. VOA

A group of Indian Catholic nuns are staging a rare street protest in the southern state of Kerala demanding justice after an alleged sexual assault of a nun by a bishop.

Police have called the bishop named in the complaint for a second round of questioning next week. The bishop has denied wrongdoing.

The case comes at a time when the Christian community, which accounts for 19 percent of the state’s population, is reeling under an erosion of trust as sexual abuse cases involving the clergy pile up.

Five priests were arrested last month in two different sexual assault cases, while last year, a Catholic priest who was trying to flee the country was arrested after a minor he is accused of having sex with gave birth.

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Catholic bishops in Chile resign over the issue of sex scandal. Pixabay

The nun in a letter said she wanted the Vatican to intervene. She said she was forced to make matters public after several attempts to seek justice from within the church failed.

The protest, now in its sixth day in Kochi, Kerala’s financial hub, is gathering momentum as the locals, activists, writers and politicians come out in support.

A man, who is on an indefinite hunger strike, lay in front of the stage where the protesting nuns sat. A nun coordinating the protest dismissed allegations that they were trying to disgrace the church.

“Our fight is for the truth. We will not back out unless the truth is established and the nun is given justice,” she told Reuters.

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Pope Francis. Pixabay

The Catholic Church in Germany acknowledged a “depressing and shameful” legacy of sexual abuse on Wednesday after a leaked study said clerics had abused thousands of children over 70 years.

Also Read: Drying Ganga Can Hinder India From Achieving SDG’s

The leaked study was published on the day that Pope Francis, who has made several attempts to tackle a spreading sexual abuse crisis that has badly tarnished the Church’s image worldwide, summoned senior bishops from around the world to the Vatican to discuss the protection of minors. (VOA)