New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

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New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Feces is the primary source of disease through bacteria, virus, parasites, prions and medicin recidue. A new SmartToilet strategy, contains, shrinks and concentrates plant nutrients for future recovery ... see the strategic description at www.smarttoilet.se

Composting toilets have been around for many centuries and have not had much success, mostly because no one has had any luck with ensuring that the final product is usable, safe and attractive enough to go back on the land as it was intended. Sometimes it fails because of no maintenance of too small tanks, sometimes because of creative maintenance that creates more problems than they were meant to solve ... a new, simpler paradigm is needed and has inadvertently been tried successfully with old large composting toilets that were just left alone. By designing them for long term processing, we can make them simpler, less complicated to build and leave it to natures most reliable procedures: time and natural decay ...

Enclosed Long-Term Composting Toilets and Greywater treatment ( www.greywater.com )
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear Carl, Dean and other specialists on vermin-composting,

The ‘SmartToilet’ (ST) (or CompostEra or Clivus Multrum as it was called before) is built on vermi-composting (VC). The 2m2 tank receives a 600L starter bed containing the compost worm Eisenia Foetida.

The system seems to work as it has been used since 45 years. Nevertheless I have some questions regarding aspects where the technique of SmartToilets seems not in line with what I have read (Appelhof, Pilkington) about vermi-composting:

1. I read that VC requires good aeration, containers should be provided with side holes to ensure this. The ST has no side holes and the fan only let air pass over the surface of the pile in the container. Is it possible that this together with the worms working through the pile still ensures aerobic conditions in the pile?

2. Worms prefer ‘wide’ piles rather than ‘deep’ piles which is different with the ST which is 1.2 x 0.8 m2 wide and 1.8m high. I can imagine that at a certain point when all ‘food’ is worked up, the worms vacate the lower strata and move upwards where ‘fresh’ food can be found. But what happens in the vacated area? Does it not turn into anaerobic conditions if not ‘harvested’ more often than every 40 years?

3. VC seems to require a bit of observance by the user with regard to the well-being of the worms (food, temperature, moisture, air, urine dilution). How can I ensure this in a 1.8m deep container under a toilet where I rather prefer not to look into?

4. I cannot remember having read to which % of volume worms can reduce their ‘food’. The ST claims that faeces and toilet paper are reduced to 2% of their original volume after 6 years. Is that realistic acc. to your experiences with worms?

5. Which just brings me to another question: VC requires carbon through addition of paper, cardboard or wood chips to otherwise organic ‘waste’. If the user uses toilet paper that may be Ok, what about washers who only add water which rather may cause anaerobic conditions clogging any voids?

I find the ST a very appealing sanitation solution because acc. to the website it requires little maintenance and needs only be emptied after 40 years if designed correctly for the number of users. But what do vermin-composting experts say? Please comment!

Ciao Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear Hajo,
When we call it a new strategy it means that the emphasis is not on the composting but on the containment, shrinkage and preparation for use as a broad-spectrum (macro- and micro-nutrients) fertilizer. The one thing I have learnt from half a century of composting processing is to not optimize the process for any particular thing, requiring specific conditions, since we are in and out of different conditions all the time and want to favor diversity rather than maximizing anything (focusing on only one parameter and letting everything else become dependent parameters).
So we want survival of many "active composting helpers - worms, bacteria, fungi etc." especially those who can wake up and get going again if the pile gets too something (wet,dry tall etc.). So the process we want, is slow and steady rather than a thorougbread

The final stages might be different where you want to make sure that the result is a safe fertilizer for agriculture, handeled by professionals. So we don't want to make the users, ever regret that they switched to a "Smart Toilet" ... it must be felt that the new toilet is easier and more pleasant to USE and free of worries. Most people want WCs for a reason of NOT being responcible for the endresult. Small scale homestead farmers all have their tricks to make "best" compost soil and if we want to have a product for toilets users focusing on ease of use and a sense that we have a clean toilet, not offending any of our senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch), but that does not do harm to to the environment like sewers do.

When you offer long term processing the issues you bring up with carbon/nitrogen etc. also take care of themselves over time. Worms do not go into fresh feces and they usually wait for the "waste" to get older and mature ... Eisenia Foetida can be seen (to the extent that they are seen, around the toilet pile like airplanes around a terminal. Anyway give it time, which means give it size ...

Enclosed Long-Term Composting Toilets and Greywater treatment ( www.greywater.com )
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear Carl,

You may have miss-interpreted my post. I fully agree with you that our primary aim should be sustainable sanitation and not best compost.

But my concern is, that the composting especially with regard to the shrinkage may not work if the worms do not find conducive conditions. Then you end up with an anaerobic degradation process stinking worse than a pit latrine. And it will not reduce to 2% volume after 6 years.

Therefore my questions also to other experts whether they believe/know that the worms will survive the conditions in the Smart Toilet – against what I read in the books – and even if only the fittest together with their ‘helpers’ (bacteria, fungi, …).

I do not want the users regret having switched to Smart Toilet because the toilet is stinking and overflowing after 3 years – against our full-bodied promises.

Ciao Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear Mr. Ciao Hajo,

You asked for a second or additional opinions from persons experienced in vermiculture and composting, therefore I would like to present my credentials.

1973 - Became a Clivus Multrum Distributor in Winter Park, CO - sold and maintained lots of them before vermiculture was even thought about introducing in the composting mass.

1983-1995 Alaska - Invented and patented the AlasCan automated, low-profile composting tank and introduced redworms and developed an extended aeration greywater treatment system.

1995-2016 Minnesota - Improved the composting vessel to provide better aeration for vermiculture and eliminated any anaerobic potential with the perforated suspended floor for air circulation. The system also contains gearmotor driven agitators on top to mix the fresh materials immediately on a timer and augers on the bottom to harvest the redworms and soil amendments. We eliminated the old air channel idea 15 years ago and copied the suspended floor from a municipal solid organic waste composting friend, Mr. Jim McNelly, St. Cloud, MN. Jim knows more about worms than any human being I have ever met. I do not know where he is as I have not kept in touch for several years.

2002 - Invented and patented the Enfinity Greywater Ozone and Reverse Osmosis Treatment and Drinking Water Quality Recycling System.

Yes, I have known Carl and Abby for over over 45 years and we have disagreed on just about every aspect of composting toilets and greywater systems and I disagree with him again from proven experience.

We would appreciate your time in reviewing this 6-minute video relating to our dedication and achievements in decentralized, onsite, blackwater/greywater separation, treatment and total recycling of ALL water, human and organic resources.

We have documented a 40 - 95% reduction in the need for water and a 95 - 100% reduction in wastewater pollution to the environment. Rainwater harvesting for complete water supply and the world's first and only total closed-loop, zero-discharge, self-sufficient water and sanitation system.

Even though our video displays our technologies in urban residential construction, Human Endeavors has had 13 years of experience installing and maintaining our composting toilet and greywater treatment systems throughout Alaska's rural Eskimo villages, which have the extremist of "developing country" conditions.

We are in the process of moving our headquarters to Costa Rica and plan on concentrating our endeavors in Latin America.

Over the past couple of years, we have made significant improvements in reducing the manufacturing costs associated with our systems and we are more than confident that our technologies will create a Paradigm Shift in how humanity thinks about, manages and treats all of our water and human/organic resources.



Clint
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear Clint,

Thank you for your response to my post and questions. Having viewed your video, I have two comments to make: 1) the Human Endeavors approach is a high-tech solution aimed at western/ US households and fulfilling western/US standards/requirements regarding black and grey water treatment, and 2) it comprises black and grey water treatment.

I stay in Africa and our requirements are much lower at this point. We only look at human excreta treatment and this with the lowest possible technical input, lowest possible costs and lowest possible O&M effort. We have to find sustainable/affordable alternatives for thousands of pit latrines in high density areas of towns which pollute groundwater, environment and are threat to public health.

The CompostEra/Smart Toilet seems to me a possible answer. Your post contains some hints that you are also very conversant with that technical approach and that you are critical of it: ‘1) … Clivus Multrum Distributor; 2) … introduced redworms; 3) … provide better aeration for vermiculture and eliminated any anaerobic potential with the perforated suspended floor for air circulation; 4) … mix the fresh materials; 5) … augers on the bottom to harvest; 6)… we have disagreed on just about every aspect of composting toilets’.

Would you mind to let me/us know where you see the snags of the 'CompostEra technique' and how you propose to tackle them? If you do not want to discuss it in public, you may write to my email.

Thanks and ciao,
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
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Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear Hajo,

It is nice to meet and communicate with someone concerning solutions for "Developing,Third-World-Poor" countries.

I became involved with Clivus because I was impressed with a box that could make "stuff" disappear as Carl claims. This was back in the 70's "Hippie, Mother Earth News Generation". After selling, installing and servicing several Clivus installations of my own as well as servicing other Clivus dealer's installations in New Mexico it became clear that nobody knew anything about composting and that the Clivus design with the sloping floor and internal air channels had problems.

As a result of an alternative sanitation solution Clivus project for the US Army National Guard in Alaska with its remote armories in Bush Eskimo villages, I became involved at the request of Clivus because I had just moved to Healy, AK in 1982. After accomplishing the impossible of installing one of their systems above the Arctic Circle in Selawick, AK near Kotzebue in December of 1983, the Director of the Agency in charge requested that I design and produce an improved version under contract with the National Guard to meet Alaska's remote "Developing Country, cold conditions".

That contract gave me the opportunity to get into the manufacturing entity of the composting business and my first versions were just as simple as the Clivus and had the same problems;
1. Air channels restricted the removal of the finished compost on the bottom of the tank.
2. The glacial sloping floor does not work and you have to dig it out by hand.
3. Because the material is directly on the bottom of the tank, you are correct, the liquids turn anaerobic and everything turns into a soup instead of having the liquids separated from the finished compost as our systems does through design.

The one question that you asked that I forgot to address, which is probably the most important point in all of your questions, is the bulking agent.

I utilize pine bedding and I add it consistently to insure that the composting mass has an adequate carbon source. It is also essential to provide adequate aeration (porosity) for the entire composting mass.

I invented the agitators because all composting/outhouse/vault/pit designs end up with a pile of stuff too strong for vermiculture to act upon , as Carl points out. The agitators mix the stuff with the carbon source, add porosity and push the new stuff to the top side walls of the tank where the worms eat. Our tanks are low-profile for several reasons but worms eat at the top and defecate at the bottom, so our tanks provide a shorter distance for the worms to go to the toilet on the bottom of the tank where the augers remove worm castings and liquid compost tea with a float switch activated pump.

It is true that our focus has been to create the StarTrek version of water and sanitation for space as well as Planet Earth but he basics of composting are simple and can be duplicated anywhere with a little imagination.

First, in high density locations I believe that the concept of a community toilet, shower and laundry location, locally maintained by trained paid persons who receive their money from the profits derived from the easy auger driven harvesting and sale of worm castings and liquid fertilizers is an immediate workable solution.

I also believe that the investment in a properly designed composting/vermiculture tank is essential to any attempt to provide effective sanitation anywhere. Our polyethylene tanks cost less than $250.00 each to manufacture out of recycled polyethylene and are the heart of success.

A tank with manual agitators, a turbine fan, a bale of pine bedding (leaves) and a micro-flush toilet will work anywhere.

Everything needs maintenance and has to be adequately financed. Because our tanks produce a resource instead of a waste problem, economic reality is possible instead of a financial drain. The existing community systems in Alaska represent an attempt but utilized a stupid lagoon in frozen country and did not provide a revenue stream to maintain systems that were funded without any funding from and for their own input.

Any "Developing and Developed Country" needs to understand that sanitation is a RESOURCE and not a waste and needs to be addressed with technologies that have the potential and design to adequately convert/transform those Creator given substances back into reusable sources of food production to complete the cycle of existence of eating and pooing.

Alaska provided me with more extreme challenges that even McGuyver has dad to deal with on TV. If the pits that are presently being dug were simply lined with plastic and a carbon source was added with each use the composting would happen more than adequately if you have the bottom designed to support the mass, provide air and allow the liquids to filter through to be collected on the bottom would work but it is much more work than manufacturing tanks professionally and transporting them to the locations. Our tanks are designed to separate in the middle to make them easy to transport and install, unlike all of the other composters. Our greywater tanks also nest for shipping.

As I stated earlier I am moving to Costa Rica and planning on helping rural communities with profits I can make in the hotel laundry water recycling business. Let the tourists pay to have clean sheets and the profits used to provide water and sanitation and jobs for the locals.

I am enclosing a new article I just produced on an experiment with RO and eliminating water softeners and chloride discharges without losing any water.

Anything I can do to help, just let me know.

Clint

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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear Clint,

Thank you for your posting and the attachments which again confirm my impression that your solutions are possibly very appropriate and applicable in US, but I doubt that they help us to contain our sanitation problems in African towns. Your techniques aim at recirculating water, produce drinking water and compost of high(est) standard.

Our problem is to replace pit latrines with something more sustainable which means ‘no sewer’ and possibly ‘no flush water’.

Because you are conversant with the Clivus/CompostEra/Smart Toilet (ST) system, I like to have your opinion/comments on the following whereby you should have in mind that our aim is NOT perfect compost but just a working toilet, which in context of the ST means ‘safe containment of human excreta for 40 years’:

1. The ST has no false floor to separate pile and fluids. This may lead to anaerobic processes in the lower layer. Can this affect the performance of the whole system?

2. The ST has no air circulation system which may lead to anaerobic processes even in middle layers. Same question?

3. The ST system does not require a bulking agent/carbon source. Can red worms handle pure excreta (in case of washers) or mixed with toilet paper (for wipers)?

And just for your information: communal toilets are not very popular in Tanzania (as opposed to Ghana), maintenance or rather the lack of it is a wide-spread problem in Africa, and - we still have a long way to go making human excreta being accepted as a resource. Cattle, pig and chicken manure, YES, but human poo, NO!

Ciao
Hajo

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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Good morning or I should be saying Hola to get use to my upcoming new home in Costa Rica.

The answers to all of your questions regarding the "Smart Toilet" have the same answer.

The "Smart Toilet's" design is not based upon 45 years of "hands on" experience, it has no operational credibility and any comparisons to actual composting and vermiculture principles and requirements for biological operation defies all of them.

My experiences with the Clivus Multrum company and products for over 45 years, has been one of sheer frustration, lack of trust and disappointment. I could go on for chapters with stories and business experiences with Clivus that were more than problematic. Enough said!

I now understand your region's dislike for community system's. On an individual homeowner/hut basis then I would still recommend individual manual compost tanks. After visiting Costa Rica this winter I have come up with a much less expensive, lower profile, non-automated bottom section of my two section tank with the suspended floor, augers and agitators still involved in the process only squished down into a lower profile version. I have eliminated the entire top section as that design was for cold locations with the sealed top section to keep the warmth in and the cold out. In warm developing climates the whole top section is unnecessary and you only need the bottom 24" h x 47" w x 88" l.

I sincerely believe that no matter where you are trying to compost anything you should have a properly designed vessel and that means air, bulking agent and methods of separating the liquids from the solids and a removal system for each.

My concept of composting is a top feeder with the material being mixed on top, augers to remove the finished compost easily and a liquid separation (perforated false floor) system to prevent anaerobic activity.

After manufacturing several versions and models of my own composting tank over the past 45 years, (welded aluminum, fiberglass, polyureas amd urethanes, polyethylene) there are 45 years of mistakes and corrections that have been adjusted in my tanks to make them operate at the greatest potential for composting and vermiculture production and operation. I really do not know how you can make poo disappear without some form of primary and secondary containment (our tanks are double walled), aeration, bulking agent addition system and frequency and harvesting.

If you are trying to come up with some form of concrete dyi idea, I would suggest that the villager's time would be better spent peddling an electrical generation machine and/or educating them on the operation of true composting systems than wasting time trying to, as the Gates Foundation thinks the academic world is going to solve, "Re-Invent the Toilet".

The World Bank and every other funding organization can afford to buy recycled non-automated, composting tanks, which can be manufactured in country to double utilize that funding for employment and economic development.

Clint
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Dear all,

Besides Clint’s quite critical comments on the Clivus/CompostEra system, I have also received other emails privately which point in the same direction. Unfortunately most comments do not detail what possibly does not work with that system, but rather advertise/promote their own system (Human Endeavors, ECOLOO) as more 'perfect' composting systems.

Thus I want to emphasise, that our crucial aim is a ‘sustainable’ sanitation chain. If at a certain stage or with additional processes the products can be re-used as compost or fertiliser, that is an extra but not the primary target.

Therefore again the questions: can the CompostEra system fulfil its promises of safeguarding human excreta for long time without much maintenance, while producing continuously ‘compost tea’ as fertilizer and eventually some compost accumulated in the container after 30 years on the basis of vermi-composting as described on their website.

In the spite of the critical comments, it is hard to believe that a system is marketed at 3-4,000 EUR in Europe which does not deliver as promised. Would the product not be off the market due to bad reputation?

I consider it should not be necessary to buy a CompostEra/Smart Toilet myself and try over several years to find whether it works or not. @Carl, can you possibly provide a list of customers who are more or less satisfied with the system (since 5, 10 or more years) and who I can contact by email. We are planning city-wide sanitation chains in Moshi and we need to know whether the technique of the Smart Toilet is a possible solution without piloting them.

I have been surprised during these discussions what ‘competition’ exists between different suppliers of these types of composting toilets.

Ciao
Hajo

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Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Hola,

In the beginning the first Clivus had several inverted v-shaped air channels in the mid-section to provide the much needed air for adequate aeration of the interior of the composting mass. The problem was that those multiple air channels restricted the mass from settling when a person was trying to scoop out the finished compost at the bottom of the non-working sloping glacial floor concept.

Another previous disgruntled Clivus distributor, Glen Nelson, came up with air channels on the side walls to help at least provide air to the side composting surfaces vertically with no restrictions as with the previous Clivus design. I tried those also but Glen's tank as well as all of the others, the compost sits on the bottom of the tank with no potential for oxygen getting down to the bottom.

Glen also incorporates a manual composting mixing system similar to our automated mixing agitation system on our tanks.

I have no idea who has invented the composting concept that a composting mass can sit there unattended with no carbon source, without any maintenance to remove the hydrocarbons, which do not compost, for more than one or two years.

Carl is going to have a difficult time introducing you to one of HIS Smart Toilets in operation for several years because there are none!

Our technologies are based upon 45 years of hands-on development and the majority of installations in actual single family residences instead of the public facility market, which is where Clivus and Glen make their money. You will also determine that our technologies address ALL aspects of water and sanitation instead of just thinking that the toilet is the only players in the water and wastewater treatment industry. What about food scraps and the resulting solid waste industry?

As I stated before, composting needs oxygen and should be maintained from the top to the bottom with designs that facilitate the addition of a carbon source, a regular method of mixing and removal.

The french fry basket idea that we have perfected works perfectly and the augers make it much easier to recover the valuable composted/vermiculture worm casting resources. The liquid is liquid and not mixed with finished compost and is easily transferred to the compost tea reservoir with the float activated pump. The agitators are a major factor in the aeration of the fresh compost into the top surfaces for the worms to eat and the aerobic organisms to appreciate the Ferris Wheel ride along with a couple of worms free wheeling.

Our tanks are low-profile and double-walled for containment and strength. With the amount of pressure that can be created with a box full of poo on the side walls of any tank should be considered in the specifications of the "Smart Toilet" manufactured end-product.

To help facilitate your research. There are very few large composting tank manufacturers and survivors. All of the large designs are manual and do not provide adequate mixing, aeration and removal components. We made ours automated because humanity is lazy and does not like to deal with poo.

Over the past 45 years we have learned that no matter what system you want to utilize you HAVE to have a managed monitoring and maintenance program that is independent of the homeowner. A decentralized infrastructure with a paid work force from the profits of the sale of the fertilizer resources. There are lots of little composters that do not work at all.

Good luck in your research as you dig into the "History of the Pioneers in the Composting Toilet Industry".

I am attaching a draft of an article I recently wrote concerning water supply and the need for changes in the plumbing supply system.

Clint

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Re: New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet)

Clint Elston says: "Carl is going to have a difficult time introducing you to one of HIS Smart Toilets in operation for several years because there are none!"
And how on earth would you know that ??? There are many systems that stay contained and shrinking the solids even though not called SmartToilets. I for one have one from 1939 in my backyard still in operation. But Clint, ... maybe you should mention that you are one of the disgruntled ...
What about your own Clivus variations ... are they still working ?
Let's not get into mudslinging in this forum.

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