It is a matter of delight to know the fact that people no longer have to worry about the shortage of water or cleaning their toilets in the near future as a self-sustainable bio toilet has recently been invented by the civil engineering department of IIT Kharagpur. The prototype of the same had also won the PM’s Swachh Bharat Award that can cater to a five-member family. The department has innovated this bio toilet with a giant flush, which doesn’t need to be refilled for more than 15 years. Moreover, reports say that the toilet is not dependent on a constant water supply like the other conventional toilets, which requires 10 to 12 litres of water per flush.
The invention is unique in its own way as the bio-toilet has microbial fuel cell (MFC) reactors which work on the water being used in every flush and completely recycles it. Once recycled and clean, this water is then sent to a reservoir on top of the toilet, where it is stored for reuse. The MFC reactors are essentially bio-electrochemical devices that harness the power of respiring microbes to convert organic substrates directly into electrical energy. Therefore the septic tank of the bio-toilet has electrogenic bacteria which generates electricity out of human waste.
According to reports in TOI, this bio-electric with six-chambered reactor rotates waste water clockwise and anti-clockwise. It uses hypochlorite used in the final cathode chamber to reduce pathogenic contamination. The six chambers are lined with a membrane that has proton-exchange property. Two PhD students at the department, Bikash Ranjan Tiwari and Md Tabish Noori played an important role in the invention of the membrane separator. It is almost 11-times cheaper and efficient at treating wastewater as against the conventional Nafion membrane.
Moreover, M Ghangrekar, a civil engineering professor spearheading the project said that the toilet is ideal for villages, which stills struggles with open defecation. However, the government is funding toilets for villagers to curb the open defecation problem, but those toilets are dry and water crisis is a perennial issue, while the bio-toilets solve all these problems.