Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, Senegal and other countries

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  • chuckhenry
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Re: Progress on EarthAuger toilet installation in South Africa

The EarthAuger has just received full validation from the Senegal COMITE TECHNIQUE NATIONAL - approval for use in Senegal. The exciting thing about this is that it includes unrestricted use, especially in the flood areas. This program was part of an Oxfam demonstration in Pikine with two other technologies; the next step is to solicit interested from the people living there in a fairly large scale-up.

The Oxfam effort is being led by Moussa Seck, Critical Practices local partner is Seydou Niang of University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar.


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Note by moderator:
Information about installations in South Africa is now in a separate thread here:

forum.susana.org/component/kunena/34-uri...tion-in-south-africa

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  • chuckhenry
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

Thank you all for your comments. There seems to be some broad issues that could be best shared in a general thread * – beyond this one that I hope will be specific for sharing the EarthAuger technology and projects.

How efficient have the NGOs been so far? There appears to be a move towards a market-based approach from the donor one of the past. Does this help bring in the private industry? Protection of technologies from copying has always been a pertinent issue – both from simple recovery of investment and also from assurance that copied products are of similar quality and not give a bad name to the original.

And in reply to Kris: You asked “which partners?“ - I meant commercialization partners that can take this from an NGO-driven activity (or a not-for profit company activity) to scale, where some profit would be made and then re-invested in the company.


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* Added by moderator: the suggested general thread has now been started here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/167-ma...the-ngos-been-so-far
It has the topic "Is our approach to instituting sanitation programs broken? How efficient have the NGOs been so far?"

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

chuckhenry wrote: One of the first questions that we've had from potential partners - now in four countries - has been whether or not we have patented our product. And it was at their strong recommendation that we do so, and I'm assuming it was not for our protection but theirs!


With partners you mean what exactly? I assume they were mainly concerned that this might be infringing someone else's patent and thus if you have a patent for it it's an easy way for them to avoid this possible risk as this is something the patent office is usually checking first?

However even if there isn't a previous existing patent I am not sure if your patent is really valid, as I am relatively sure there is "prior art" on this one with very similar latrines build and installed in South Africa (?) a decade ago or so. I think we had some pictures of those here on the forum some time ago. *

So my guess (I am not a lawyer though) would be that if someone was to challenge your patent in court it would not hold. But of course this doesn't (and shouldn't) stop you from perusing this nice design further!


* See this post on the forum (by Christoph Platzer from 13 April 2013): forum.susana.org/forum/categories/34-uri...tes-on-progress#4141
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  • chuckhenry
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

Thanks so much for your reply, Elizabeth. And it is SO pertinent. One of the first questions that we've had from potential partners - now in four countries - has been whether or not we have patented out product. And it was at their strong recommendation that we do so, and I'm assuming it was not for our protection but theirs!

In response to "...do you find it immoral for companies to make a profit when they're serving the poor?", I have to laugh! If at some point the the future we actually MAKE a profit (I've 15 years as a 'negative-profit company!), then my dream is to return this to the industry to continue to improve our product (which includes figuring out ways to decrease the price even further), fund some graduate students in sanitation and do some of our own projects. I'm not holding my breath!
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

Hi Ben,

Just to clarify about the open access policy of the BMGF (which I think is wonderful as far as publications are concerned): It only refers to published information.

See opening paragraph (www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Gene...n/Open-Access-Policy):

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to information sharing and transparency. We believe that published research resulting from our funding should be promptly and broadly disseminated. We have adopted an Open Access policy that enables the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded, in whole or in part, by the foundation, including any underlying data sets.


I had a similar question to Alison Parker (another grantee), and posted what I found out about it here in January:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/105-pr...it=12&start=36#16569

(this link should take you to my post from 15 January 2016 on Page 4 of the thread; some browsers take you to the start of the thread though)

This was the main point:

This thing about IP protection is something we've talked about on the forum quite a bit. It seems counter-intuitive at first but Alison explained to me:
"Have you been following the STEP programme? They talked a lot about protecting IP in the introductory webinar. They talked to a lot of potential commercialisation partners and realised that few of them would be keen to engage without protected IP."


I am not an expert on this but I think it boils down to the question, do you find it immoral for companies to make a profit when they're serving the poor? I don't, as long as it's not "exploitative". We have also discussed this here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/106-us...e-sanitation-problem

I am sure the final word has not yet been spoken. ;-)

But now I am also interested to hear what Chuck has to say about the patents on his innovative toilet.

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • ben
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

Dear Chuck,

Congrats on the continuous improvement of your system and the tests all over the place.
I just had on question, all the BMGF grantees must put their techno on open access :

www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Gene...n/Open-Access-Policy

So how did you manage to create a patent for it ? And why did you do it ? Do you think it's compatible with development and relief actions.

Thanks,

Best

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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

In my role of moderator, I would like to point out that Clint has posted a reply in this thread but I moved it to the thread describing his systems, i.e. here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/205-ve...it=12&start=12#17796

(go to Page 2 on 25 April if the link doesn't take you to the right point in the thread)

Clint contrasted his system with the Earth Auger and started out with

Actually, the FIRST flushing toilet patent was for an earth flushing toilet instead of water flushing toilet.

Why the change from earth, which would have been beneficial, to water, I assume was based upon the knowledge levels at that time to "get it out of here BECAUSE IT IS BAD"! Based upon that technological base of knowledge AT THAT TIME, they used and we continue to use copious amounts of water to quell the odor immediately and then use more water to remove the materials faster to let someone else deal with them because they are BAD!


Please head over to the other thread if you have comments for Clint.

(as his post was not directly about the Earth Auger toilet, I felt it was "tidier" to move it to the other thread)

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Elisabeth
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  • chuckhenry
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

Hi Sjoerd,

To answer your question, we are in the process of patent protection on the EarthAuger, and currently have US copyrights for all current designs.

But, we believe patent protection is not crucial. Based on our experience, we believe continued research and development, and strong distributor training, and support for end users are the keys to the success of the EA. We have worked with a number of test sites, and we find a much higher success rate where we have time with the distributors and/or end users to ensure proper education and use.

Over the years, we have tested it under many different circumstances, and have found good approaches to proper function of the EA in a variety of conditions. Each test site has brought new developments and improvements to the EA, and we continue to learn from our ongoing work. We would like to continue to be the primary research facility as we bring world-wide experience, top academic and industry talent, and an established manufacturing and distribution network. With these resources, then we can make low cost products and our wealth of knowledge and experience available to our distribution partners.

We observe that one of the most important features of the EA is its low cost. Our target end user population has little or no financial ability to acquire sanitation systems. Our system is probably one of the most cost effective around. And, with centralized manufacturing in large quantities, we can keep the price to our distributors, and thus the end user, very low.

If you are interested, we would be happy to discuss a distribution arrangement with you. That would include supply of manufactured units, technology training, experience data, and related know-how and consulting services.

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  • sjoerdnienhuys
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Re: [SuSanA forum] Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries (Urine diversion systems (includes UDDT and UD flush toilet))

Hi, Clint,
About 6-7 years ago I saw a toilet with a good closing cover over the seat. On the side of the cover a handle was fitted. Lifting the handel dropped sawdust in the pot and with that covered the excrements from the former user.
After using the toilet you can lower and lift the cover once (or twice if one is not enough), dropping a new amount of sawdust. The problem of that toilet was that there was no urine diversion, which required a lot of sawdust.
The toilet was on the first floor, allowing the dryer material to go down a shaft.
The mechanical parts were all outside the pot.
Sjoerd from The Netherlands.
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

Hi Chuck,
I like to congratulate you on the system, but have some questions on the patent(s).
1. Which parts or what aspects are patented and which not? In many cases new construction are composed of existing ideas. Sometimes patents are on design concept, rather than on the technology components.
2. To what extent do you think the patent aspect may prevent people of copying the design to a certain extent. About 10 years ago I saw another design using a mixer screw. Dung mixers for composting and earation exist already for over 40 years.
3. Does the patent imply cost aspects for reproduction?
4. For which countries does the patent apply?
5 Why was it considered to patent the system?

Sjoerd Nienhuys
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  • ablingan
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

We have seen the EarthAuger (EA) UDDT in the susana forum. It is really interesting technology, particularly in the water scarcity regions.

We would like to know more about the EarthAuger field demonstrations details and contact number in India.

Please provide us single unit cost and installation charges so we can try to install a demonstration unit in Chennai or Pondicherry.
¬
Thanks
With Regards
Abraham Lingan

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  • chuckhenry
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Re: Evolution of the EarthAuger UDDT (a hybrid composting and urine diverting dry toilet) - in-field demonstrations in India, Ghana, South Africa and other countries

In February Brian McCarthy and I had a great time helping to install two EarthAuger Community Systems in Pune, India. These were the last two demonstrations funded by Washington Global Health Alliance, and we had a wonderful local partner SaraPlast (3SIndia). One system was for an 8-plex housing unit, and the other for a growing peri-urban school. Two month reports suggest things are going well. Please see:
earthauger.org/indiacommunity.html for more information on the project.



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