Thai researcher reinvents toilets for urban poor | Source: Ishani Bose, dna – Aug 18, 2013 |
Dr Koottatep aims to create a toilet that converts waste water into power, biogas.
Studies show that while 900 million people in India have access to mobile phones, about 600 million people have no access to proper toilets. This interesting fact set the tone for our conversation with Dr Thammarat Koottatep, who has about 18 years of experience in environmental engineering, waste water treatment and decentralised sanitation technologies and planning.
A researcher in the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand, Koottatep was in the city on Saturday with regards to his ongoing research on the subject of reinventing the toilets in the countries which received $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Before coming up with this project, we conducted a study and we realised that there are two fundamental sanitation challenges. First is to expand and improve sanitation without central sewers, because this is by far the most common type of sanitation services used by the poor and the other is to make sanitation services safe and sustainable by addressing the failure to effectively transport, treat and reuse waste captured in on site facilities,” said Koottatep.
Currently, about four colleges in the world i.e. Indian Institute of Technology (Mumbai), Vishwakarma Institute of Technology (Pune), Thammasat University (Thailand) and Ho Chi Minh University (Vietnam) are working on the invention and prototyping of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems (DEWATS) technology that treats and discharges a pathogen-free domestic effluent, and ready- for-reuse products. This prototype technologies are successfully field-tested for single families and apartment blocks or for community wastewater management. Bangkok and Pune will be the two cities, where the prototype will be undertaken.
“Through this project we aim to create a toilet, which will process waste water in homes and convert it into electricity and biogas, reducing the costs for the urban poor users and preventing various kinds of diseases that occur due to poor sanitation conditions. Also, this project will help save water as only 1 litre of water will be used for flushing as against 10-12 litres of water that is usually used,” said Koottatep, adding that the cost of each toilet including the septic tank is about 250 dollars.
Find more about Prof. Koottatrep’s project on the SuSanA Forum.