Bioelectric toilet: A novel approach for treatment of human waste and generating onsite electricity for lighting toilets

Students of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Indrasis Das, Dipak A. Jadhav won the award for research work of Bioelectric toilet: A novel approach for treatment of human waste and generating onsite electricity for lighting toilets. They carried their project work under guidance of  Dr. Makarand Madhao Ghangrekar.

Improper sanitation facilities in India are causing serious health hazards and lead to water contamination. Different types of onsite sanitation practices adopted in rural areas viz. aqua privy, pit privy, bore hole latrine, dug well latrine, septic tank etc. Among them, septic tank is most commonly used sanitation facilities in rural areas. But this can only remove chemical oxygen demand (COD) of about 30 to 40% from sewage and remaining organic matter along with pathogenic microorganisms left to the environment to pollute the water bodies. The concept of ‘Bioelectric Toilet’ is based on Microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology which gives improved treatment to black water and sludge settled in the septic tank and generates bioelectricity. Odour problems associated with the septic tank minimizes due to anaerobic oxidation of ammonia and sulfide to nitrogen and elemental sulphur, respectively. Recently, a field scale 1500 L capacity multi-chamber multiple electrodes type (5 air cathode MFC and 1 aqueous cathode MFC) bioelectric toilet installed and put under operation in IIT Kharagpur campus since last six months. More than 95 percent COD (Chemical oxygen demand) removal efficiency was achieved and sustainable electrical energy production observed from this reactor which can illuminate toilet and toilet premises at night. Hypochlorite dosing is done as catholyte in the final cathode chamber of aqueous cathode MFC which reduces pathogenic contamination. Treated water can be reused and recycled for flushing purpose which decreases the fresh water consumption and makes it suitable for water scarcity areas.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science and Technology, awarded the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Appreciation to Indrasis Das, Dipak A. Jadhav , Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur at the GYTI 2018 Awards function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 19, 2018.