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Bio-digester Toilets: A New Era in Indian Sanitation

sanjaykbanka's picture

Banka BioLoo Pvt Ltd, an Indian firm committed to improving environmental and social conditions, is working to eradicate the issue of open defecation. By providing eco-friendly and resource efficient bio-toilets (or bio-loos), the enterprise is helping meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG-7).

Over 600 million people in India, half of the country’s population, have no access to toilets. As a result, people are forced to defecate in the open. This poses health hazards, raises environmental concerns and leads to water contamination. The problem is exacerbated by the Indian Railways’ open-chute toilet system whereby human waste drops on the rail tracks. Untreated human waste lying in the open poses a health threat to people and to the environment.

Banka’s solutions address the following needs:
• To meet the need for a basic, easy-to-install and hygienic human waste disposal mechanism in areas with no infrastructural facilities.
• To address the need for a cheaper and easy-to-operate alternative to the traditional waste disposal system.

The bio-toilet system consists of an easy to erect super-structure, a multi-chambered matriced bio-tank that holds the bacterial culture and allows the treatment of the human waste. The system doesn’t need any external energy for treatment, rather emits pathogen-free effluent water that can be used for gardening and similar purposes; and bio-gas that could be used for cooking or heating.

The system meets all regulatory and environmentally compliances. The bio-digester technology was initially developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), an Indian government arm, for the defence personnel. Banka Bio Loo is pioneering this in an integrated approach and taking this effective and innovative sanitation solution to communities in need.

Bio-digester is fuelled by anaerobic bacteria, which have been screened and gradually adapted to work at temperatures as low as -5°C through the isolation of psychrophilic bacteria from Antarctica/Siachen. These convert the organic waste into water, methane and CO2. The anaerobic process inactivates the pathogens responsible for water-borne diseases. Bio-digesters serve as reaction vessels for bio-methanation and provide anaerobic conditions and the required temperature for the bacteria.

According to our study, the following are the methods of human waste management or treatment: Pit latrines - collects human waste in a "pit" that has to be periodically emptied. The waste is either treated centrally or dumped in the ground. The former consumes energy in transportation and treatment, whereas the latter contaminates the environment and ground water. Septic tank retains the human waste, and is also periodically emptied and cleaned, emits foul smell and any leakage harms the groundwater. The other major practice is of hugely built sewage treatment facilities (commonly called STPs). The human waste is transported via sewer lines to the central facility and treated using colossal amounts of energy.

Unlike many other conventional solutions including pit-latrines, which need to be emptied, or systems requiring sewerage treatment facilities, bio-toilets, treat the human waste at the source. Hence there is no need to transport the waste or impact the environment or groundwater. The Bio-Loo system leaves pathogen-free water and for large bio-tanks, methane can be collected and used. These can be installed anywhere, without specification of land type, terrain, distance, etc.

Further details

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