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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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 CompostEra/Carl,

I feel a bit bad having ignited this discussion which brings a lot of animosities to the surface… I thought this was a professional forum, where I can learn and exchange a lot… but I notice (and not for the first time) that for whatever reason animosities between members surface… and the knowledge exchange suffers…

even by now I do not know whether the CompostEra/Smart Toilet (ST) may work or not work in the way it is described in the respective websites… my doubts come from what I read about vermi-composting which describe the need for aeration, bulking agent, carbon source, mixing, harvesting, … which all is not part of the ST…

I asked the forum, what they know about the ST system and all I received was more personal animosities than technical info… and when I asked you to provide me with contacts of users, you did not respond so far…

I still like to believe that the ST works as I cannot imagine that you can sell a product in Sweden at 4,000 EUR which does not work… but then you should have a number of satisfied customers in Sweden who can confirm so…

I am still interested in technical information on the ST but no more in personal bickering… please all, stop this!

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.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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Re: [SuSanA forum] New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet) (User interface technology innovations)

Dear Hajo,

You are right ... the animosities are right under the surface when old previous friends turned enemies are asked to comment on each others work or character. You asked for references and I can send you a few of these from clients who had had systems, they are very happy with but you need to be aware of the limited worth of testimonials in general, especially those provided by the manufacturer as well as those provided by the ”public”. I have never seen a testimonial supplied by the maker of a product that is blatantly negative … have you ? … it’s just in the nature of things.

Now let me comment on the strategy smart toilet ! A strategy is not a product nor reporting on a product … when we say that SmartToilet encloses the ”waste” in isolation and shrinks it, it means just that. The containment is absolute, but the shrinking is relative to a lot of factors ... too many to predict how much it will shrink and how fast. We have seen systems fill up much faster than predicted and systems that go on for much longer. That does not change the concept of containment and shrinkage, which takes place even if the rate varies. When this strategy is adopted by a larger corporation or communal organisation many of those questions work themselves out as reputation: AUDI has a reputation of excellent customer service, which it has built during many years. Smart toilet is too young to have a reputation either way but I draw from other experiences from older systems. As a general concept I have faith that we are on the right track: We provide a product that does not aggravate the user but rather the opposite … our clients are uniformly very happy with the visual side of things and the fact that it does never smell.

So it provides comfort both aesthetically and experientially … our customers are very happy with a toilet that never smells, never clogs, never needs to be flushed several times to see the waste flush away or being flushed repeatedly because it does not get clean on the inside of the bowl… Of course things can lierally break like what would happen if you kick the toilet hard enough. A fan can break just like an engine can break in our AUDI ! But you then replace it and it is good to go again. A flush toilet has valves and fittings and pipes under pressure that can break, leak freeze etc. This is what we mean by resilience … not much can go wrong with this process: you pile up the organic excreta and sometimes it shrinks quickly and some times more slowly but the long term average is what counts and there is not much that can go wrong with time and decay !

We consciously do not try to optimize, speed up, rely on mechanical devices that WILL break down and when they do are inside of an environment that does not invite repairs !!! So that is what a smart toilet is and does. It is conceptually easy to grasp and easy to see how it can work or not work … the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t break down and shrink fast enough to keep up with expectations. It has little to do with carbon/nitrogen quotas, water content, how many worms are in residence or all the parameters that varies in its own fashion. All our customers are primarily concerned about conceptual breakdowns and failures like spilling the waste out on the floor or any such catastrophic events. We find that sometimes a user is worrying about the rate of decomposition because it seems like an extrapolation will result in an imminent filling up and we then remind them that they may have to have a bit of icy nerves and just wait and see how it plays out … and most of the time you learn that procrastination is your friend. All the things you learn is so crucial to do, just doesn't really matter …

The process strategy is better explained in the flipchart www.smarttoilet.se especially
www.smarttoilet.se/smarttoilet/Smart_Process.html

The real process curve is usually not as tidy as all that.

Carl

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

Dear Carl,

Thanks for your response… I never did or would ask on the forum about somebody’s character… and I hope everybody will now restrain from personal bickering and concentrate on professional information…

Of course you would not comment ‘blatantly negative’ on your own product, nobody expects you to do so. You explain that the shrinking process sometimes goes slower, sometimes faster. Because faeces are 70% water, I guess the first shrinkage is mostly by de-hydration of the faeces. But the further shrinkage is by the vermi-composting.

And this will only happen, if the environment is conducive for the worms, basically they need to survive and even better if they are ‘happy’ (Appelhof): ‘to make the worms happy, you’ll need to think about temperature, moisture, acidity, and ventilation’, so that they multiply and keep ‘going’. And some of the conditions are also necessary to keep the processes aerobic and odour-free.

Therefore I kindly ask you to send me the emails of some of your satisfied customers, so that I can contact and ask them how happy they (and their worms :) ) are. I guess that people who employ worms to eat their poo, do not mind to talk about it .. ;)

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.
E.F. Schumacher
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,

Now you are making statements that are far from any concensus in the literature, research nor experiences. You say:

this will only happen, if the environment is conducive for the worms

I don’t know where you got that from ? will only happen ?? May I remind you and Clint Elston and others that biological degradation is NOT only taking place through worm activitiy there is a quite complex web of various micro- and macro- organisms participating in the break down of organic substance. Some are sequential and some are operating independent of others ... see below and this is only some:








Regarding sending you testimonials from my customers re. the process … I can only say that I will not violate my customers privacy (by promise to them). And, I will not respond to Clint Elstons public accusations … I think your request is out of order and we can talk about that but I will not publicise my clients infor in this forum .

All the best
Carl

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

Buenos Dias Hajo,

I am in Manual Antonio Costa Rica now installing an ozone injection laundry greywater treatment and recycling system at the Costa Verde Hotel to help reduce the need for energy for hot water, water consumption and the use of chemicals (soap) by massive percentages.

My use of ozone has now increased from utilizing it in disinfection and the breakdown of organics in the greywater for total recycling to potable water qualities to my company's newly established laundry division. Ozone is truly amazing but there are some issues especially in humid countries such as Costa Rica. I am utilizing DeltaWash ozone and air drier technologies and they are responding very effectively to the humidity.

Regarding composting of human excrement, I totally agree with Carl that Mother Nature has an army of organisms and more magic other than worms in naturally converting human excrement and kitchen organics into usable soil amendments. Aristotle called worms "The intestines of the Universe" and I, as well as Carl believe that composting can be accomplished without them, but with them and the correct composting mixture, Mother Nature can use ALL of the tools in her tool box.

From my HANDS ON composting experiences worms require a varied diet, which HAS to include kitchen organics. Just trying to get worms to eat toilet resources makes for a very unhappy worm.

I think I have tried to promote the concept that if you are actually going to try to shrink, reduce, compost, treat or whatever you want to call dealing with human excrement you need to have;
1. An acceptable toilet with a transportation system.
2. A vessel capable of providing the MUCH needed oxygen to all critters, including worms throughout the composting mass, not just on the side walls or on the top surface.
3. A bulking/carbon source
4. A method of soil amendment, liquid and solid, removal.

It is time to go for the morning 2 Kilometer swim around the ocean rocks.

Talk to you later.

Clint
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Re: [SuSanA forum] New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet) (User interface technology innovations)

Dear Carl,

I fully agree with you that composting ‘is a quite complex web of various micro- and macro- organisms participating in the breakdown of organic substance’.

Maybe it is ‘nit-picking’ but I would call it only ‘vermi-composting’ if worms contribute to the process (at least something if not considerable). But they will only do so if they are ‘happy’ which I am still not sure whether the CompostEra will provide the right environment for.

You may still try to convince me otherwise and in order not to violate your customers’ privacy you may send my email to them and they can contact me if they like so (hajoschaeferatgmx.de).

In a discussion today with some Tanzanian colleagues about sanitation options for Tanzanian peri-/urban areas, we found one interesting solution which can somehow be blended with vermi-composting: the pour flush toilet with twin pits. You find details in the EAWAG ‘Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies, 2nd Edition’, page 68, collection and storage S6. With a diameter of 1m and a depth of 2m, the volume should last for 3 years when used by 10 people.

Our idea is to add composting worms to the pit in use. The conditions in the pit may be very similar to those in a CompostEra. If they are happy, they will contribute to shrinkage and eventually to extension of the useful time of one pit and also to a better quality of the compost. If they do not survive, the system will at least continue functioning as designed in the Compendium (we will build two pits).

Because the twin pits will not work in impermeable soils, in rock and in high GW table, we ‘developed’ the following alternative idea: we will dig in 2m3 PE tanks which will have a false floor on which the solids will accumulate and below the fluids (pour flush water and urine). The fluids will have to be pumped out (handpump or sucking with motorised pump) once a week and be disposed of in the central Waste Stabilization Ponds. Then we have almost the CompostEra made of local material and adapted to our conditions. Thanks for your inputs.

If we are lucky we produce good compost, if not we have at least an improved, sustainable sanitation system for which we can hope to develop also a sustainable service chain and we can get away from the troublesome pit latrines.

I am not so happy that we still use flush water although very low quantity but the pour flush also has advantages as the gooseneck in the squat plat prevents the dumping of solid waste in the pit which currently is a big obstacle when trying to empty a latrine pit. Further we can try to install low flush equipment which makes possibly use of the hand-washing water.

I invite you and everybody to comment on our ideas.

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.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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Re: [SuSanA forum] New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet) (User interface technology innovations)

Dear Hajo,
I agree that a happy worm is very useful in processing toilet residue but if we designed a toilet system to optimize for worms, we automatically add serious service and maintenance and we couldn't offer systems to the variety of situations that we do now. I will also say that the curves offered to represent how process proceeds are conceptual ... the actual breakdown is much less tidy but I'm myself surprized how the job long term handles itself quite well, and if we have one recommendation how to kickstart a sluggish process, it would be to add a bucket of warm water in the spring ... dryness is no friend of most contributors.
If you want testamonials, I cannot give my customers name away and if anonymous, the worth is near zero
All the best
Carl

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

Dear Carl,

Thanks for your posting.

If I understand your response well, the CompostEra environment is not optimal for ‘happy’ worms, which otherwise would require more service and maintenance inputs (I add) ‘by observing/ensuring appropriate temperature, moisture, acidity, and ventilation’.

In the CompostEra the worms ‘survive somehow’ and contribute to the composting process ‘somehow’ (otherwise you could save the extra expenses of adding them) but the process is not ‘almost perfect’ vermi-composting (as I believed) but surprises you by ‘a quite complex web of various micro- and macro- organisms participating in the breakdown of organic substance’ which can be kickstarted by adding ‘a bucket of warm water in the spring’.

That is good to know and we will now make our own experiments whether the worms will survive and contribute also in a similar environment in an earth pit which will be fed with human excreta through pour flush (i.e. little water, max 4L per flush) and where the fluids will percolate away through the soil and where soil microbes will assist our worms in the breakdown of the excreta.

If the worms do not survive it really does not matter as our system of two alternating pits does not depend on the worms… they could just extent the emptying cycle and produce probably better quality ‘pit humus’.

… and I will not ask you again for your customers’ names..

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.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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Re: Thematic Discussion "WASH & Nutrition" (Part 3): Progressing the agenda - What do we want to achieve?

Nutrition is variety of the main building blocks hydrogen, oygen, carbon, phosphorous and potasium BUT chemical agriculture has overlooked the importance of the micro-nutrients that delivers fragrance, taste and broad spectrum nutrition which is crucial for many health related factors. For exampel if we feed our growing veggies only chemical fertilizer we soon deplete our soils of the micro-nutrients and we get what the food industry asked for: only visual gratification of bright colors and size XL ... thats what a supermarket toamto delivers ... no fragrance, no taste (at best) and we do not get the crucial effect of our food serving our body with the effect of knowing when we had enough. You can eat 20 supermarket market tomates without getting a nicely full feeling that we get after having had 1-2 great organic tomatos, grown in rich organic soil with plenty of humus.
Consider this: the US was first out using chemical fertilizer on a massive scale and the US also dons the, without comparison, largest population of obese people in the world ... coincidence ? I don't think so. If we don't feel full from what we eat we keep eating , hoping that quantity with deliver what quality did not give us. The human feces and animal excreta contains a fair amount of those micronutrients and this is one reason for extracting the human excreta in a chemically clean form and feed our plants with it, once processed.
This is the reason for the new strategy of www.smarttoilet.se ... we need those micronutrients contained in the fecal excreta and we can get in a clean form when we don't mix our excretion with large amounts of water and then mixing it further with sewage !
Try the easy-to-read flip-chart of www,smarttoilet.se and see why the new tech of dry toilets make so much sense.

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  • goeco
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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)

Volume reduction is a very simple thing to achieve. Its not rocket science to significantly reduce the volume of feces by composting. Simply provide the right conditions and you get the results. What interests me is providing the right conditions simply and cheaply and from local materials. A good vermicomposting digester does need to offer sustainable sanitation, not just compost. If well designed, the compost can be safe and of good quality.

You do not need pine bedding or a carbon source.
You do not need augers, agitators or float switches.

You do need good drainage.
You do need good ventilation and not just from above.

The concrete dyi concept is very viable with vermicomposting digesters, there are very good examples emerging in Africa seeded by Re-invent the Toilet.

A conservatively designed vermicomposting digester would:
  • be wide so the heap's horizontal spread is not limited.
  • have ventilation underneath, above and all sides (e.g. "french fry basket" or "perforated suspended floor").
  • have drainage that is assured of always draining away from under the bedding (i.e. never flood the substrate).
This will ensure efficient operation under all hydraulic loading and seasonal conditions, by following these basic rules.

The technology is simple and well proven. However, safety concerns remain about both the compost and the liquid "tea". Compost worms do no eat parasitic helminth ova. Before use as fertiliser, secondary treatment of the vermifiltered effluent is required to lower biological oxygen demand (BOD), suspended solids, and helminth egg count to safe levels. The composted solids also contain high levels of helminth eggs and these remain active for some time. The compost doesn't need to sit for 20+ years, but to be safe it does need to sit for long enough to deactivate all helminth eggs. I'd suggest 3 years "safe containment" would give assurance that this is the case... 5 years at the most.

Sufficient volume in the domestic waste vermicomposter is required to remain operational without removal of solids for 5 years. I have found a chamber volume of 1 m3 to be sufficient for an average family, taking into account seasonal fluctuations with the worms. The twin-chamber design, each of 1m3 therefore allows each side to rest for 5 years before removal of compost. This is all very straight forward and most suitable for primary decentralised treatment in developing countries. There really is no need for proprietary technologies, just local knowledge and access to materials.

What does need further work is on simple secondary treatment systems suitable for developing countries that offers significant and consistent reductions in helminth counts in the liquid effluent so this could be used safely for crop fertigation.

Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
Go-Eco Sustainable Solutions
www.go-eco.co.nz
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Re: [SuSanA forum] New strategy stops pollution and saves the plant nutrients for future recovery (new Smart Toilet from Sweden, a new type of composting toilet) (User interface technology innovations)

Dear Hajo,

I think you have to take some responsibility for the discourse in this forum. Clivus was the first commercial composting toilet in the world with the prototyp from 1939 and this cement tank is still in my backyard in Sweden and still working fine by the way. So when you are starting the trail there will be followers, and some of them break out on their own for as many reasons as there were people doing it. Some of them thought they had better ideas, some wanted to keep the money from sales and manufacture a copy and some started their own variety (like the systems sitting on the floor of the bathroom). If you invite their opinion of CompostEra, you will naturally get their opinion of why their product is better or best.

When we call CompostEra a long-term processing toilet it is meant to be able to go the distance … not to be the fastest composter, not to be the simplest to install and as we started to talk about, not the ideal vermiculture set up focusing only on that. Mathematically, if you maximize any parameter, all other variables become irrelevant and that is seldom the optimum long term function.
CompostEra is a marathon runner not a sprinter !

But the discourse started when you and Clint accused me of not having a working system because
1. a competitor makes a claim that it doesn’t work,
AND
2. because I won’t send you our customer listing ... what are you saying? ... should I violate the trust of our customers, who we have promised not to share their names and info in public ?

This is the only reason I did not send you any references which I stated the first time but you took that to mean that we didn’t have any references! If you privately would like to talk to people having had the CompostEra installed for several years, you can write me in private but then you have to promise not to publish their names unless they explicitly grant you that permission. I trust any other serious company would say the same.

All the best
Carl

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

Dear Carl,

I never accused you of ‘not having a working system’ but I tried to find out how the CompostEra works (as a vermi-composting system) although its condition do not match with specifications I had read in books (by Appelhof and Pilkington) about vermi-composting.

I had accepted that you cannot send me addresses of your customers and had proposed instead that you give my email to some of your customers and they may contact me if they wish so (my posting of 16.06.).

I am tired of these discussions getting personal and I will not respond to this arguing anymore.

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.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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