Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

  • smecca
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

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Christian,

I need to clarify your post and one assertion in the video clip. The Biofil aggregate filter was 'invented' by Mr. Anno. However, the Microflush valve was developed at my lab, the S-Lab in the Department of Engineering-Physics-Systems. The two technologies were brought together and field tested as part of a Grand Challenges Explorations award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Ghana Sustainable Aid Project (GSAP). The Microflush technology was shared with Biofilcom, which was given the rights to use it in their toilets by me. The Biofil prototype toilets cost $1200 for a single stall and, while the price for these will likely fall a bit, they are not financially accessible to the rural poor. GSAP and my lab have been working on a low cost locally sourced and locally fabricated version of the technology and have successfully demonstrated a single stall GSAP Microflush toilet that is sold by the local Maker for ~ $300 US which makes it accessible to households in the lowest quintile of the household income spectrum. A few photos of a GSAP Microflush toilet are attached.

We are currently training what we call MAKERS in Ghana and around the world in the fabrication and installation of these toilets. Interested sanitation-missioned NGOs and organizations who wish to work with us in this effort should contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

..Steve Mecca


++++++++++++

Note by moderator: Further information about the GSAP microflush toilet is available here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/105-pr...king-steady-progress

Stephen Mecca, Ph.D.
Professor
Department Engineering-Physics-Systems
S-Lab
Providence College
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Visiting Scholar
Department of Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Science
University of Ghana

Project coordinator at Ghana Sustainable Aid Project:
www.ghanasustainableaid.org/
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  • goeco
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

The 2013 report Application of GSAP Microflush toilets: a sustainable development approach to rural and peri-urban sanitation can be downloaded here

For those of you interested in Adane Molla's report which discusses subsurface infiltration of effluent from vermicomposting toilets, this can be downloaded here

I agree with Steve Mecca that the digested solids component (vermicast) needs to be tested for pathogens, if anybody knows about this being undertaken please post to the forum, as this "manure" would be very useful as fertiliser.

I'm wondering why I cannot yet find the plans for constructing the locally sourced and fabricated version of the GSAP microflush toilet. If these are not yet available perhaps this would explain why the "open-source" system has not gone "viral", meanwhile the aggregate filter manufactured system (Biofil) has grant-funded market consultants working hard on securing market share and expanding production.

However, its great to see the locally made version (onsite fabrication approach) of the microflush valve mechanism and the vermi-biofiltration system on youtube:

Microflush toilet

It needs to be kept in mind that the system shown here is an "outhouse type" where the low flush waste goes straight into the digester below. The low flush mechanism allows direct discharge of filtered liquid effluent to a gravel pit ("soak-away").

For a flush toilet to work inside a house the flush volume needs to be much greater so the waste travels down the pipe to exit at the digester effectively. Then, as Adane Moller points out, the liquid effluent needs a proper sub-surface infiltration system.

As Steve Mecca points out in his video presentation, the open source approach of putting it out there and letting it self improve, perhaps means the "manual" on how to fabricate the unit needs to be in an updatable form. Looking at the design in this video, I'd point out that by having the filtered liquid ("urinal pit") under ground and directly draining to the gravel pit, that if soil infiltration was not sufficient or the water table raised, the whole digester would start filling with water and kill the worms. Also, it appears that the "urinal pit" cannot be accessed easily and sediment buildup might become a problem over time.

Dean

Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
Go-Eco Sustainable Solutions
www.go-eco.co.nz
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  • smecca
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

Dean,
We have trained toilet GSAP Micorflush toilet MAKERs in 15 countries using the 80+ page fabrication guide, which is now set in both English and Spanish. The toilet is best made by a trained MAKER which is why we don't post the training guide on the net. Anyone wishing to be trained should contact me; basic masonry skills is all that is required. The program gives the trained MAKER an opportunity to have a small enterprise in her/his community while helping to solve the menacing condition of sanitation in the community.

Re: ground water infiltration to the filter-digester, we are very clear about placement of the system taking site water table conditions into account. We do this to be sure the digester cannot be flooded. For impossible situations, we have developed a filtrate processing system when ground water is at ground level (a swamp); the system is being tested in the field and we will be preparing instructional materials on this in the year ahead. I believe it will result in the first effectively closed toilet in the world, one that can even be installed on a swamp!

Re: deep testing of the filtrate that goes into a soak hole in normal installations, our lab is well along with doing deep DNA analysis of our products, a costly process that must be carefully carried out. We have months of work left on this after which we will publish the results. Please contact me if you are working in a community and wish to have a MAKER trained to properly fabricate the GSAP Microflush toilet.

Happy New Year.

Stephen Mecca, Ph.D.
Professor
Department Engineering-Physics-Systems
S-Lab
Providence College
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visiting Scholar
Department of Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Science
University of Ghana

Project coordinator at Ghana Sustainable Aid Project:
www.ghanasustainableaid.org/
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  • adanesew
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Re: The potential of subsurface infiltration for the treatment of vermibed effluents generated by the Biofil toilet. (UNESCO-IHE/KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana)

As promissed in the 2013 post about the Biofil toilets, my work has already been published, you can download it here
Happy New Year

Adane Sewhunegn Molla, Environmental Engineer(MSc)
Lecturer, Dept. of Public and Environmental Health
Hawassa University, College of Health Sciences
Hawassa, Ethiopia
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Re: The potential of subsurface infiltration for the treatment of vermibed effluents generated by the Biofil toilet. (UNESCO-IHE/KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana)

Dear Adane,
that was really an interesting work, i congratulate you dear for your hard work. i remember all your efforts.

Lakachew Yihunie Alemneh(MSC)
Lecturer and Researcher on Water supply and Sanitary Engineering Department.
Water,Sanitation and Hygiene(WaSH)Specialist
Bahir Dar University-Institute of Technology.
Po.BOX 1322
Bahir Dar
Ethiopia
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  • DianeKellogg
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

Thanks for this and several previous postings that have been very helpful, Dean. I'm sympathetic to why Dr. Mecca prefers to train people when he introduces them to the training manual. None of us would want people to fail at producing a good system because they downloaded it from the web and didn't really understand what they were doing or the science behind it. People could end up bad-mouthing a product and creating resistance to an excellent toilet.

Much better to get it out there and working properly in thousands of situations first, so neighbors end up educating, persuading and eventually training neighbors. Maybe open source could be possible eventually? Your idea of an open source, updatable, manual is really appealing. GSAP is creating a network of experienced toilet makers so might be in a position to collect expertise and wisdom that emerges.

Diane M. Kellogg
Partner, Kellogg Consultants
Private Sector Specialist, BMGF grant to SuSanA
Marketing Consultant, PRISTO (RVO-funded grant)
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

I'm sympathetic to why GSAP wants to be there for face-to-face training when a toilet-maker receives the manual for the first time. I suspect GSAP is in "learn as you go" mode and is updating as you work in new cultures and in settings with new environmental challenges. What might need to be different for an open source manual to be possible? Thank you for all you are doing.

Diane M. Kellogg
Partner, Kellogg Consultants
Private Sector Specialist, BMGF grant to SuSanA
Marketing Consultant, PRISTO (RVO-funded grant)
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

Adane: Congratulations on publishing your excellent and useful work. In your presentation you recommend a number of areas for further work. What would you like to see happen next that capitalises on your results to date to move forward regarding treatment of the liquid effluent?

Steve: Thanks for the update on progress with the GSAP microflush programme, production of the fabrication guide and your filtrate processing system. Would you be able to make a copy of the guide available for me to review and give feedback on?

Diane: I agree with all your points. The open source model brings together a community of users and providers – where the users are in the drivers seat and set the agenda, while the providers only help to realize it. However, universal access is paramount to this model so that all developers have the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the system. In this case a wiki would be a useful tool for development of the guide, with review of release candidates followed by publication of each release.

Thanks all for your replies

cheers
Dean

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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

In my view I want this to be modified into sustainable and user friendly wastewater treatment system that is applicable and modernized in the setting of my own country, Ethiopia. Mainly, as this system is an individual based treatment system, I think it is also possible to scale-up in to communal Faecal sludge treatment plant where there is no specific advanced treatment system existing at the moment in developing countries. I am therefore thinking whatever means to up-grade this system into a municipal scale. As I did this research being a student in Ghana, I didn't further proceed with it, however I am trying my best to further work on improving and up-grading the system as part of my PhD work. To realize my dream I am trying my best to get funding sources and promoter to work with.

Kindly yours

Adane Sewhunegn
Lecturer of waste management and treatment technologies
Hawassa University, Ethiopia

Adane Sewhunegn Molla, Environmental Engineer(MSc)
Lecturer, Dept. of Public and Environmental Health
Hawassa University, College of Health Sciences
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  • marrath
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

Dear Adane,

I am working currently on a decision-support model for sustainable and appropriate sanitation systems. My case study area is Arba Minch, Ethiopia. In this work, I am also considering to include the Biofil toilet as one of the technology options.
Do you know if Biofil toilets are available and already applied in Ethiopia? Or do you think that it is not appropriate since it is a company based in Ghana? But maybe other vermicomposting technologies would be appropriate for the use in Ethiopia?
I would like to hear what you think about this. It seems like you have a lot of knowledge about it.

With best regards,
Maria
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  • smecca
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

Maria, We have two trained GSAP Microflush toilet MAKERs in Ethiopia, Adane and Lakechew, who have both posted here. WE are hoping to secure some startup funding for their tool sets and materials for their first two toilets. The similar Biofil toilet is a Ghana enterprise whereas GSAP's approach has been to train MAKERs to have their own enterprise in their communities - sustainable business model with a sustainable toilet! To date, we have trained toilet MAKERs in 18 countries around the world. Feel free to contact me if you want more info about the GSAP Microflush toilet and the MAKER model.
..Steve This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stephen Mecca, Ph.D.
Professor
Department Engineering-Physics-Systems
S-Lab
Providence College
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visiting Scholar
Department of Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Science
University of Ghana

Project coordinator at Ghana Sustainable Aid Project:
www.ghanasustainableaid.org/
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Re: Prototype Microflush-Biofil Toilet Facilities (Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, USA and Ghana)

Hi Steve, could you explain GSAP's sustainable business model further please? Is MAKER training a business enterprise?

Thanks
Dean

Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
Go-Eco Sustainable Solutions
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