The Kailash Ecovillage project converting human excreta into organic foodstuffs and sanitized compost using new international building codes for compost toilet and urine diversion systems (Portland, Oregon, USA)

  • kimgerly
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Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

I would like to dovetail on Dr. Hill’s comment in a previous post, "What is missing in these forums are the voices of people & agencies actually operating these units.” *

First. Yes, composting toilet is a misnomer, as per points thoroughly enumerated by Dr. Hill.

Second. I would like to be one of the voices that can testify about is an eco sanitary, thermophilic compost toilet system operating in Portland, OR, USA. A paper I co-authored titled, "The Kailash Ecovillage project converting human excreta into organic foodstuffs and sanitized compost using new international building codes for compost toilet and urine diversion systems” was submitted for final editorial review just yesterday for publication in the forthcoming, first edition of IWA’s Blue-Green Systems, Ref: BGS-EM192R1.

This experimental composting toilet system modeled after the Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard (WE-Stand) set forth by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO); it has been operating since March 2014. We call the humanure excreta collection device the commode AKA Joe Jenkins’ Lovable Loo. Urine and human excreta are hot composted (thermophilic temperatures) in a dry-composting toilet processor system for eventual use on the community’s organic gardens. The system consists of urine collection vessels, multiple portable collection containers/commodes for excreta, toilet paper, cover material, and a compost processor. Logs returned sustained thermophilic compost temperatures. Compost and urine pathogen testing met American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and National Sanitation Foundation Standard 41 (NSF 41) requirements.

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* Note by moderator: This post was originally in this thread about composting toilets and whether their name is a misnomer: forum.susana.org/241-composting-toilets-...ng-toilet-a-misnomer

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  • kimgerly
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

Preface: I reiterate, this paper I mentioned in a previous post is currently under final editorial review, awaiting publication in the forthcoming IWA Blue-Green Systems Manuscript Number: BGS-EM192.

@joeturner, allow me to add some concrete performance results. For now, here’s what I can share…

After humanure was collected from the Joe Jenkins’-style 5 gallon collection vessel AKA container AKA bucket, typically, 15-20 containers were batched into a compost processor consisting of several large bins constructed of durable, unmortared concrete blocks, with a bottom constructed of a lipped concrete pad sloped toward a drain in the center to collect any leachate; any leachate was recycled into the processor. Bin interior dimensions 1.2 x 1.2 x 1.1 metres with an internal capacity of ~1.6 cubic metres.

Compost temperatures were monitored for several bins daily, after each batch of compost was added to a processor bin. Temperatures were taken at the center of the bin, 10 cm from the edge, and the internal edge of the bin, at the depth of the compost thermometer, which was 50 cm long. Even at 10 cm from the bin perimeter, the extent of the excreta, toilet paper, and high carbon additive (moist wood chips) mass being composted, temperatures above 40°C were sustained for 28 days, and above 50°C were sustained for 10 days.

As far as compost pathogen testing for fecal coliforms, results produced demonstrated a high-quality product, exceeding the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards for Class A biosolids (<1000 fecal coliform cfu/g) for compost safety; specifically <1-20 cfu/g.

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  • joeturner
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

Ok, can you tell us where and how you sampled the temperatures and where you took samples for analysis?

Because if one sticks a thermometer into the top-middle, it isn't hard to show high temperatures. It is much harder to show that all of the material has reached temperature - that normally requires thermocouples and continuous temperature collection over a significant period.

Coliforms are probably the worst thing one could measure - even if it is what the USEPA standard suggests.

Other more resistant pathogens are in no sense modelled by coliforms. EU standards specify particular microbes like strept - and that is largely because it is assumed that the nastier pathogens are not present.

I still strongly suspect that if tests had been more extensive then a Jenkins' humanure style system would not be killing resistant pathogens.

Generally speaking if one is trying to prove that a specific system is working, a range of microbial samples would be taken at different times for a suite of microbial pathogens - even if in the normal way it isn't possible to test each of them.
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  • kimgerly
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

@joeturner. I don't want to offend the IWA publishers and make ALL information available until the paper achieves the final 'blessing' for publication; soon on the publishing, I hope. I also understand your reservations about the full swath of pathogens being eradicated. Allow me lower your expectations...

We did employ a best-practices procedure for drawing final composted samples, and using commercially available test kits to (key operative) benchmark this design schema.

NB: Our offering is a cursory, starting point prototype/pilot, solely funded by sweat equity. Unfortunately, here in the USA, agencies and municipalities are solicitous to fund ANYTHING until provided with a pilot. The aim of this pilot is to garner financial support for a more extensive final analysis of the end product, AND a variance that adheres to IAPMO WE-Stand AKA Green Building Code in the USA and Canada, so more rigorous analyses and results can be produced--the aim of my meeting tomorrow with the California Water Resource Board and California Recycle Professional Engineers.

I trust you can understand. Stay tuned...

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  • joeturner
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

Well I guess it is possible that you have been able to find a "sweet spot" where adding wet faeces with a high N level to a wet carbon source in a confined space is able to promote aerobic microbial respiration and effectively fully sanitise the product.

Logic suggests that ought not to be possible.
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  • kimgerly
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Re: IWA Blue-Green Systems paper published | The Kailash Ecovillage project converting human excreta into organic foodstuffs and sanitized compost using new international building codes for compost toilet and urine diversion systems

IWA Blue-Green Systems paper I co-authored is available now. I wasn't sure which category (there are a few that could work) was appropriate to post under, sanitation systems, composting, etc. Not sure if cross-posting is recommended. In any event...

...since this offering ultimately is all about resource recovery, carbon sequestration, I posted here. Elizabeth feel free to relocate if you think it's appropriate.

Go here:
IWA Blue-Green Systems | Compost Toilet System paper

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Note by moderator (Elisabeth): Yes, I think the sub-category you chose is fine. It could indeed have been posted in several other sub-categories but we don't allow cross-posting. So this one is fine.

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  • bowenarrow
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

The Kailash Ecovillage experience is very encouraging. The experiment seems to be well designed, thought out, tested and reported in a manner that all can read and understand. A practical case study over a reasonable length of time, in terms of longevity and seasonal variance.
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  • geoffbhill
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Re: Which composting toilet to choose - recommendations, please?

Good article. This is not a composting toilet. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but this is batch composting human waste collected from urine diverting toilets. There is no dream of making compost in the collection bucket is there?

Geoff
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  • kimgerly
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Re: The Kailash Ecovillage project converting human excreta into organic foodstuffs and sanitized compost using new international building codes for compost toilet and urine diversion systems (Portland, Oregon, USA)

Geoff. Thanks. Yes, you are correct on all your enquiries. To reiterate there is NO dream of making compost in the container/bucket. All the composting happens in the nine processor bins. See Figure 2F, which is the compost processor.

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  • kimgerly
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Re: City of Portland, Oregon, USA issued formal permit Wed, 18 Sept 2019

Hearty congratulations are in order to Dr. Ole Ersson for his drive, dedication, persistence and fortitude to see this process through!! This system adheres to the IAPMO Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard (WE•Stand) 403 .

To download and review the official City of Portland, OR documentation approving this installation, go here to the City of Portland's web site:

www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/appeals/index...ntry&appeal_id=21899

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