When you do your morning business, you may not think about it, but more 1.7 billion people There are still no basic sanitation services, such as private toilets or communal toilets. About 500 million people still defecate in the open (yes, it is open defecation), 92% of whom live in rural areas.
So Archie Reid, a recent graduate from London’s Brunel University, designed Sandy. The toilet uses a mechanical flush (no electricity), a basic conveyor belt to carry away solids (not water), and a divider inside the bowl that separates the waste streams so that they can be used as independent fertilizer. To be. For now, the Sandy is a concept with a prototype, but if it makes it to market, it could operate off-grid, making it a viable and respectable home for rural households without water, septic tanks or sewage. may become a solution. system
Read, who holds a degree in product design engineering, came up with the idea during a recent internship in Madagascar. He was working for the toilet company Luvat, which encapsulates waste in a biodegradable polymer film but requires regular servicing. “It’s a great product, but like every other sustainable toilet they’ve designed, they’re targeting cities,” Reid says.
Sandy joins a growing ecosystem of off-grid toilets that run the gamut from something that is a . sees like potty training toilet and comes with a biodegradable single-use bag, for a proud bucket with lidto one hi-tech toilet Which uses nanotechnology to convert human waste into clean water and ash without using any energy. Like the Sandy, these toilets don’t require water to function, but most of them (except the last one) don’t flush at all, which Reed describes as “safe but not a good experience”. Is.
This is where Sandy comes in. The toilet bowl has two separate compartments: one guides urine into a container at the bottom; The other has a simple conveyor belt, covered with a thin layer of sand that is renewed with every flush. Read opted for sand because it prevents feces from sticking to the conveyor belt, but he says sawdust or dirt would work equally well. (Testing of the prototype involved instant mashed potatoes mixed with various amounts of water.)
When you’re done, you press the flush handle, which swings the conveyor belt away from view and drops your business into a separate container below. For a house of 7, he says the liquid container needs to be emptied every two days, while the solid container needs to be emptied after four. After that, people can use the urine as fertilizer immediately, and bury the rest to be used as manure four weeks later.
The key here is that by design the whole operation is low-tech. “If you have a nice complex electrical component, and you’re in a village that’s 50 miles away from any technician who can fix it, you’re 50 miles behind them to fix a toilet and 50 miles behind Can’t expect to visit,” Read says. “It should be in a condition that can be cured by 90% of the people themselves.”
It’s too early to talk logistics, but for now, Reed prices the product at $74 per unit, which puts it somewhere in the middle of its competition. Eventually, he envisions working with NGOs that can buy or rent toilets and educate people about safe sanitation in the process. “If your main priority is safety, you can’t take a fortune from people for it,” he says. “It’s not like you’re selling a luxury product.”