Revolutionary technology makes safer sewage systems in India

(19-01-2017) BITS-Pilani and Ghent University have developed a novel technology relying just on electricity to disinfect wastewater and thus limit the risk to inhabitants around open drains.

Besides the human suffering, inadequate sanitation has a major economic impact in India: an estimated US$53.8 billion per year. To put this in perspective, this was the equivalent of 6.4 percent of India’s GDP in 2006. Millions of households do not have access to any drainage network, and tens of millions rely just on open drains. 70 percent of households do not have access to a toilet. The situation in many countries e.g. in Africa is very comparable.




With support of the Program Management Unit at Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (PMU-BIRAC) of the Department of Biotechnology and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) researchers of BITS-Pilani and Ghent University have now developed a novel technology relying just on electricity to disinfect the water and thus limit the risk to inhabitants around open drains.

How it works

The core of the technology is an electrochemical system, in which the water is treated by pH changes and the production of chlorine, a strong disinfectant.

The system can be coupled to a high-rate wetland enabling higher-quality water. In the past years the teams have first tested the system at laboratory scale, then at single household scale and now the system is operational for a communal toilet for 100 people. The system continuously met the requirements for pathogens set by the Indian government.

The new technology is thus a strong push towards the desired future stand-alone and sustainable toilet and sanitation technologies that do not require to be connected to a larger sewerage system and do not need the input of chemicals. The team is now discussing a rollout over multiple sites in India in the near future.

india wetland

Contact

Ghent University: Korneel Rabaey
korneel.rabaey@ugent.be

BITS Pilani: Srikanth Mutnuri
srikanth@goa.bits-pilani.ac.in

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