Abstract

There is a strong need for transformative sanitation systems in the areas of the world where open defecation habits and/or inadequate sewage treatment methods and facilities exist. This paper describes an innovative thermally efficient solid waste treatment process as a basis for an off-the-grid, non-sewered toilet in order to address this need. Human feces are combusted in a continuous-cyclic manner using two stages of smoldering and catalytic oxidation. It has been shown that thermal coupling of the two stages creates a self-sustained reactor that can combust wet fecal material containing up to 3.2 parts water to 1 part dry matter – equivalent of water content in healthy human feces – without the need for external heating, known as the ultimate challenge in direct combustion of human feces. Furthermore, it has been shown that air flow rate can be reliably used as a controlling mechanism for fecal destruction rate which means the same reactor could be operated for various and varying input rates. The present work demonstrates the potential for manufacturing low-cost, low-energy consuming sanitation systems that are more easily accessible to communities in need of such systems.

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