Using Cocopeat for Treating Septic Tank Effluent (RTI, USA - Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries)
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TOPIC: Using Cocopeat for Treating Septic Tank Effluent (RTI, USA - Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries)

Launching ​– Putatan Elementary School, Philippines 13 Nov 2011 16:02 #2847

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(note by editor (EvM): the following 10 posts had been made as part of the Sanitation Network closed discussion forum of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and have been transferred to this open discussion forum at the end of 2012, at the request of the BMGF)

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Dear Friends,

We recently launched the first of several demonstration units for our cocopeat wastewater bioreactor technology project. For this component of the study, schools were chosen as the wastewater source for demonstrating the suitability of the technology for difficult applications. Schools represent a bigger challenge than many other sources for wastewater treatment technologies due to their highly variable flows. Systems must be able to function under peak flow conditions common during special events, as well as low flows during weekends and summer vacations. However, the opportunities are equally great as schools represent an ideal entry point into a community interested in scaling up sanitation through wastewater treatment. As students learn about the technology and benefits of treating wastewater, they can teach their parents, which helps raise awareness and demand for services.

For more information about our project launching, visit our blog post on our website – Wastewater Solutions for Development at: watsanexp.ning.com/profiles/blogs/cocope...-school-muntinlupa-c

Thanks for your interest in our project. We will provide updates as the data becomes available.



The Cocopeat Project Development Team

RTI International

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.watsanexp.ning.com
Last Edit: 11 Mar 2013 21:26 by muench.

Re: Launching ​– Putatan Elementary School, Philippines 24 Nov 2011 16:11 #2848

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Materials like cocopeat have been used in the past to make high-quality biochar or activated charcoal. I wonder how such processing might change the results of your work. Does biofilter refer to direct biological activity in the filter?

Re: Launching ​– Putatan Elementary School, Philippines 25 Nov 2011 16:11 #2849

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Biofiltration may be defined as a pollution control technique using living materials that capture and biologically degrade pollutants. The “living” component in the case of the cocopeat biofilter refers to the trillions of bacteria and other organisms residing within the medium that consume the organic matter in the wastewater through microbial respiration and decomposition.

The coconut tree, referred to in many regions as the “Tree of Life”, has hundreds of documented uses. One such use is as a feedstock for the production of activated charcoal. While not a direct component of this study, activated charcoal can be used in the control of odor and color in wastewater treatment. As the world’s most powerful adsorbent, activated carbon can address a wide range of contaminants. It is conceivable that coconut-based activated charcoal could be used in ventilation filters for odor control in biofiltration systems, or as an additional step in the treatment process to produce a highly purified effluent suitable for reuse within homes.

An important component of our study is to determine how market forces may be harnessed to unlock the power of decentralized wastewater treatment for wide scale sanitation improvement. Low cost products such as cocopeat biofilters and perhaps activated charcoal filters will likely play an important role.

Thanks Brian for your comments. We will take a look at including a coconut-based activated carbon vent stack filter for our next demonstration project, which will be launched at the Muntinlupa Science High school in the Philippines this coming January.
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
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www.watsanexp.ning.com

Re: Launching ​– Putatan Elementary School, Philippines 30 Nov 2011 16:11 #2850

  • Elmersayre
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This is great work. Hope you can also do a pilot in my place near Cagayan de Oro…we have so much coco fiber here…
Elmer Sayre
Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development Fdn.
Libertad, Misamis Oriental
9021 Philippines
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Re: Launching ​– Putatan Elementary School, Philippines 01 Dec 2011 16:11 #2851

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As Elmer says, this is great work. Our group is also using aquatic mesocosms to chew up & re-combine raw wastewater in Cambodia & Burma. While I have not read your blog (!sorry), at first I wondered if you have any pre-settlement/septic component prior to the cocopeat, but now I see you have a lid on the entire process. Is this a completely anaerobic environment? Sounds like odor is an issue and maybe methane an opportunity? (This is posted 8-9 months since Nov ’11 & I’m sure you’ve moved far forward…)
R. Taber Hand, Ph.D.
Founding Director
Wetlands Work! Ltd.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

wetlandswork.com
LinkedIn: Taber Hand

Re: Launching ​– Putatan Elementary School, Philippines 01 Dec 2011 16:11 #2852

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Dear Taber Hand.

It is a good question as social acceptability is an important component of the study. Actually in both the Putatan and Bandung cocopeat studies, odor was reported as an initial concern. To address this, we added a 10 cm layer of coconut coir (the fibers) over the entire system. It solved the problem in both cases. We did not want to place a hard cover over the system as our theory was that through the intermittent dosing, atmospheric oxygen would be drawn into the filter after each dose (as the effluent moved its way through the pore spaces). This is somewhat shown to be the case through the analytical testing for dissolved oxygen which shows 0 mg/l in the septic tank effluent (what you would expect), and between 0 – 2.5 mg/l in the final effluent after the filter. We think the trace amounts of DO is helpful in establishing a robust and diverse population of microbes, and could be a contributing factor in the denitrification we are seeing. We are looking at the species diversity with our partners at Duke University now.

As for the methane, you are right. Our findings are that people will generally not invest in sanitation unless there are strong enough motivators. In the absence of enforcement (often the case in development settings), positive or economic motivators seem to work best. Our work in Vietnam indicates there is a great potential in coupling cocopeat technology with co-digestion where human waste and agricultural waste are combined in proper quantities to maximize methane production. The cocopeat filter treats the effluent from the co-digester so that it can safely be used for agricultural (or aquacultural) reuse. The values, especially to women, that now do not have to scrounge for firewood or tend dirty and unhealthy wood cookstoves is a strong enough motivator to catalyze this investment. You can read more about our interviews with the end users in Vietnam here:

watsanexp.ning.com/profiles/blogs/codige...e?xg_source=activity

Thanks for your comments.

Dave Robbins
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
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www.watsanexp.ning.com

Cocopeat Wastewater System for Muntinlupa Science High School 20 Jan 2012 15:37 #2884

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Muntinlupa City Philippines – January 20, 2012.

The Muntinlupa Science High school was proud to inaugurate its new cocopaeat based wastewater treatment facility today with much fanfare and media coverage. Cocopeat is a waste product of the coconut processing industry. The technology is demonstrating how waste-treats-waste at a school-based setting, which will help introduce the concepts of sanitation improvements through wastewater treatment to developing communities. This is the second cocopeat demonstration system installed in the Philippines as a component of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenge Grant to demonstrate low cost and sustainable cocopeat-based wastewater treatment technologies.

Coco1.jpg


“This is the second cocopeat system we have installed in the last few months and we are definitely getting better at it”, says Jet Pabilonia, Project Manager, and Chief Environmental Officer for Muntinlupa City. “We built this one in just a couple of weeks, and it is getting cheaper as well. The materials and labor for this system is at around 64,000 pesos ($1,500 US dollars). That’s not bad considering it is providing wastewater treatment for 870 students.”

Coco2.jpg


The technology uses the cocopeat media as a biological filter that treats septic tank effluent to a standard where it can be used to irrigate non food crops. In this case, the treated effluent is disbursed to a tree planting area, where it is hoped that the nutrient-rich effluent gives a jump start to the mahogany saplings planted around the school. “The tree planting is a program here in the Philippines directed by our president to plant 1 billion trees”, says school principal Mrs. Madeline Ann L. Diaz. “We are very proud of our environmental record here at our high school, and this cocopeat wastewater system is one more step in the greening of our school”.

Partners in the project include:

Coco3.jpg


  • Muntinlupa City Government represented by the Honorable Mayor Aldrin L. San Pedro;
  • The Laguna Lake Development Authority, represented by Secretary Nerius Acosta, LLDA’s General Manager and Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection;
  • RTI International; and
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Analytical testing of the system will begin in late January and continue through 2012. Updates on the testing results will be posted here as they are available.

For more information on sustainable sanitation technologies including the background information on the cocopeat project, visit our website technology resource page at:

watsanexp.ning.com/page/treatment-technologies
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
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www.watsanexp.ning.com
Last Edit: 14 Dec 2012 10:58 by dotwerkstatt.

Re: Question of the week: Biggest Challenges 25 Jan 2012 18:44 #2887

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Our team has been working to test cocopeat, a waste byproduct from the coconut processing industry, as a viable bio-filtration medium for treating wastewater. This has resulted in an unexpected consequence where we are now somewhat labeled as the people pushing or advocating cocopeat technology. While we do hope to show that cocopeat does indeed represent a low cost and sustainable technology that can be applied by local service providers, it is really just another technology in a rather long list of technologies that may be applicable to a particular wastewater source at a given site. While cocopeat may help fill the need for low cost and sustainable wastewater treatment, the real game-changer in our view is the process, whereby local service providers can properly evaluate source and site conditions and make informed technology choices. To help make this point, we have developed a wastewater technology decision model and associated toolkit we hope local service providers can utilize to help them make informed technology decisions. It would be useful to know if the group finds this useful or may have other ideas for improving.

The model and associated tools can be found at:

watsanexp.ning.com/dewats-illustration-model

Thanks for any ideas or suggestions on this point that anyone might care to offer.

Dave Robbins, RTI’s Sanitation Team
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
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www.watsanexp.ning.com

Cocopeat Wastewater Treatment Study – Interim Results are In 03 Apr 2012 12:17 #2917

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Update from Bandung Indonesia. Our friends at the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) have just launched their pilot scale cocopeat biofilter project and will begin their testing protocol this week. Special thanks to Pak Iqbal Rofiq, Ph.D and his cocopeat testing team for his work on this program. For complete details, learn more here: watsanexp.ning.com/profiles/blogs/itb-la...o?xg_source=activity

Cocopeat, the dust from crushed coconut shells after the fibers (coir) are removed is showing promise as a

Cocopeat demonstration facility at Muntinlupa Science High School, Muntinlupa City, Philippines

very low cost bio-filtration medium for treating various types of wastewaters. Our approach has been to engage researchers in proving different aspects of the technology at various institutes in the US and in Asia. Casting a wide net will help us with our efforts to commercialize the technology through the power of markets and local service providers for wide scale application once the concepts are proven. Our core team includes:

  • Can Tho University, Vietnam: Pilot-scale testing of cocopeat biofilters for small communities using a recirculating flow model to determine optimal system configuration;
  • Muntinlupa City, Philippines: Full-scale testing at two public schools to demonstrate the efficacy of the technology for highly variable flows as well as low-cost construction methods;
  • Duke University, USA: Bench-scale testing to demonstrate nutrient reduction and system efficiency during highly variable flow conditions;
  • Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Indonesia: Testing local varieties of cocopeat as a residential wastewater treatment strategy for cleaning up the Citarum River that runs through the city;
  • Edeltech Engineering, Bangladesh: Helping with the development of different dosing mechanisms to enable application of the technology for very low cost off-the-grid applications.

We are at about the half way point of our testing program and are pleased to share the results. Common themes include impressive removal efficiencies for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and fecal coliform bacteria.


cocopeat.jpg

Cocopeat demonstration facility at Muntinlupa Science High School, Muntinlupa City, Philippines


For the complete testing results, we invite you to check out our blog posts as follows:



For additional information, we have prepared posts on the following additional topics:



On behalf of the Cocopeat Testing Team, we would like to thank you for your interest in this project and in any comments you might care to share with us.

Dave Robbins, RTI International, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.watsanexp.ning.com

cocopeat wastewater bioreactor technology project 07 May 2012 15:29 #2927

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Cocopeat based biofilters will be utilized in a wastewater treatment program through a central Vietnamese government push to expand sanitation coverage in Tra Vinh, An Giang and Kien Giang provinces. The program, spearheaded by Nguyen Huu Chiem and his cocopeat research team at CanTho University will provide full wastewater treatment to over 2,800 families utilizing the VACB-D method. VACB-D stands for Farming, Fisheries, Livestock, Biogas and Cocopeat. Through this low cost system, waste from livestock, fisheries and people is collected in a common biodigester that generates biogas for use in cooking. The nutrient-rich biodigester effluent flows through the cocopeat biofilter for further treatment so that the effluent may be used on crops. Biosolids from the biodigester and spent cocopeat may be composted and added to soils to enhance their productivity. For more information on the VACB-D method, see this post: watsanexp.ning.com/page/small-community-sustainable-sanitation.

Chiem-300x228.jpg

Nguyen Huu Chiem


Cocopeat testing and analysis at Can Tho University continues to indicate positive results with removal efficiencies for BOD, TSS and Fecal Coliform exceeding 90%. View the latest test results at: progress report May 2012 (2). Construction of the 3 new community based systems is set to begin later this summer with completion anticipated by the end of the year.
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
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www.watsanexp.ning.com
Last Edit: 14 Dec 2012 12:42 by dotwerkstatt.

RTI International and Habitat for Humanity Philippines Collaborate for Better Wastewater Treatment 04 Nov 2012 14:41 #2958

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In October 2012, RTI International and Habitat for Humanity Philippines announced a collaboration to improve wastewater treatment for Habitat’s growing portfolio of low income housing developments scattered in various urban and peri urban areas throughout the Philippines. While most of the Habitat housing projects in the Philippines to date have utilized septic tanks for wastewater treatment, Habitat’s senior management recognizes that septic tanks alone are insufficient to achieve their goals of compliance with discharge standards, and to address their broader interests in improving environmental health and sustainability for their communities.

RTI International works with Habitat for Humanity Philippines in three general areas to help achieve these goals:
  • Providing tools and information that Habitat engineers can use to select, site and size appropriate secondary wastewater treatment technologies;
  • Promoting Best Installation Practices for on-site and decentralized wastewater treatment; and
  • Helping to implement planning strategies for designing subdivisions to merge the human environment with the infrastructure requirements of full wastewater treatment.

The collaboration is a follow on to RTI’s work in promoting low cost and sustainable wastewater technologies for development settings, funded in part through the Grand Challenges Explorations program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

RTI benefits from the collaboration as well, according to Julian Doczi, RTI’s resident expert on decentralized wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS) in the Philippines. “Working with Habitat affords us the opportunity to better understand the realities of trying to implement full wastewater treatment with limited resources in these very constrained sites that Habitat has selected for their developments. Better understanding these constraints will help us as we develop tools and information that can have real and practical applications. This appears to be especially true of our work in promoting Best Installation Practices for DEWATS components”, according to Doczi.

To initiate the collaboration, in early October, RTI wastewater specialists accompanied senior Habitat staff on a baseline assessment of three of their existing projects. The review identified an immediate need, which is to improve the quality of wastewater component installations through more comprehensive contract documents between Habitat and their sub contractors, and more frequent and targeted quality control inspections to be performed by Habitat staff. The review identified specific issues, some of which are identified below:
  • Septic tanks being installed do not meet the minimum standards as set forth in the Clean Water Act of the Philippines for leak proof septic tank construction;
  • Sewer lines are not being installed with the required clean outs and sanitary sweeps as required by the Plumbing Code of the Philippines; and
  • Septic tanks are not equipped with proper access ports (manholes) to facilitate desludging.

V2-300x112.png


It is believed by both parties that promoting Best Installation Practices will serve Habitat well by improving the quality of installations, and reducing the environmental health issues and nuisances related to poor DEWATS construction. Further, that these Best Installation Practices will be especially applicable as Habitat for Humanity Philippines transitions to including full wastewater treatment for their new development projects.

The images show the state of septic tank construction in the Philippines. Note unsealed tank on the left, which is subject to infiltration from high ground water. The image on the right indicates improper sewer line construction (90 deg bends instead of sanitary sweeps), and lack of access ports.

For more information on RTI’s program to promote DEWATS Best Installation Practices, visit our webpage at: watsanexp.ning.com/page/best-practices

How you can help. Best Installation Practices in development settings are often very different than how technicians accomplish tasks in developed countries. To illustrate best practices, we are collecting photographs of technicians performing construction tasks related to septic tank or DEWATS installations in development settings. Photos of technicians building tanks, laying sewer lines, connecting plumbing fittings, and similar activities would be very useful to us. If you would like to share your photos, kindly send them to *****@***.org. Please provide the location and if possible, the name of any technicians appearing in the photos, and the name of the photographer so we can provide proper credit.

Thanks!
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.watsanexp.ning.com

Using Cocopeat for Treating Septic Tank Effluent (RTI, USA - Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries) 11 Mar 2013 16:02 #3856

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(note by editor (EvM): to maximise the impact of previous discussions, I have moved the previous posts about this grant to be above this post (please scrol up); these previous posts had been made as part of the Sanitation Network closed discussion forum of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and have been transferred to this open discussion forum at the end of 2012, at the request of the BMGF)

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Dear all,
I would like to introduce the research grant to you today which I led and which had funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

Title of grant: Using Cocopeat for Treating Septic Tank Effluent
Subtitle (more descriptive title): A Low Cost and Scalable Technology for Decentralized Wastewater Management

Name of lead organization: RTI, International
Primary contact at lead organization: David Robbins
Grantee location: Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
Developing country where the research is being or will be tested: Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, El Salvador, Puerto Rico (It has been tested as part of Gates phase one funding in Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam. Just today I learned of two new systems in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is not part of the grant. They replicated the technology on their own. Next phase is El Salvadore, India and Puerto Rico.)

Short description of the project: Commercialize the cocopeat biofiltration technology for rapid scale up through prototyping, testing in controlled and operational environments, and then launching the products through a market-based sales and distribution model.

Goal(s): The goal of this project is to test and commercialize next generation low cost and sustainable wastewater treatment systems using an innovative biofilter medium harvested from crushed coconut shells. Cocopeat, the dust that remains after the coir (fibers) are removed, is proving to be an effective medium for treating wastewater. The project team is testing the cocopeat biofilters on septic tank effluent, the effluent from community biodigesters, and greywater from residential and commercial sources. Simplified construction and installation techniques are also being explored and documented for the eventual commercialization and scaling up of the technology.

Objectives:
a) To introduce cocopeat biofiltration technology as a viable wastewater management choice that may be lower in cost, require less area, quicker set up time and simpler operation and maintenance than other secondary wastewater systems, such as constructed wetlands or sand and gravel filters.
b) to provide business opportunities to local service providers that wish to expand their services to include this low cost technology
c) to help spur economic development and job creation in coconut producing areas by introducing a new product and new paradigm of low cost sanitation improvement.

Start and end date: Phase 1 – proof of concept. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation GCE Round 6 May 2011 – October 2012. Phase 2 – Funded by RTI International. Start November, 2012 – ongoing.
Grant type: Phase 1: GCE (Grand Challenges Exploration) Round 6 – Phase 2: RTI International research funds.

Funding for this research currently ongoing? The project is currently supported solely by RTI International.

Research or implementation partners:
o Muntinlupa City, Municipal Government, Philippines
o Can Tho University, Vietnam
o Instut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia
o Duke University, North Carolina USA
o Eram Scientific, India
o Quanics, Inc. USA
o Innovative Waste Consulting Services, USA

Links, further readings – results to date see our extensive website: watsanexp.ning.com/page/cocopeat-biofilter-for

Following are links to Fecal Sludge Management papers and presentations by the same author (but not on this research project in particular):

Paper: www.susana.org/docs_ccbk/susana_download/2-1624-robbins.pdf
Presentation: www.susana.org/images/documents/07-cap-d...intrnational-usa.pdf

I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Regards,
David
David M. Robbins
Sr. Water and Sanitation Specialist
RTI International
3040 Cornwallis Rd
Research Triangle Park, NC
27713 USA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.watsanexp.ning.com
Last Edit: 11 Mar 2013 21:26 by muench.
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