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Eco-sanitation and water-free urinals as a model of resource use optimization

Shital Shah
7th Apr 2011
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The Fourth Edition of Sustainable Fridays, an initiative by Green Excel Partners, took place on April 1st, 2011 in Bangalore. This month the discussion was centered around ‘Eco Sanitation & water-free urinals as a model of resource use optimization’. Mr. Goutam Surana, founder of Neo Systek was the guest speaker.

Starting off as an IT professional and then going on to pursue his passion of doing green business, Mr. Surana brought the concept of ‘water-free urinals’ to India. He has managed to work with a large number of IT companies so far and convert them into water-free, resource-optimizing facilities.

The discussion started off with Mr. Surana introducing the concept of water as a resource and the quantity of water we use for sanitation per day. As much as 5% of fresh water consumed is currently used to carry away urine. He approximated that in offices, around 700 liters a day is used for flushing for just100 people. This brought us to discussion of the need for resource optimization and hence water-free urinals.

We understood briefly how the concept of water-free urinals works where nanotechnology is used so that the urine passes through a passage where there is a cartridge inserted to absorb the sediments. The cartridge prevents gas formation in the urinal.

Enzymes are then used and when mixed with the urine, it converts it to soft water and hence no sediments go into the drainage system. It helps to keep the place as dry as possible to prevent bacteria formation which results in the bad odour.

Each water-free urinal typically saves up to 40,000 gallons (151,000 liters) or more of fresh water per year. This amount of water does not need to be transported to the urinal or away from it to the water treatment facility, saving energy. No energy need be used to treat this water, nor does it produce carbon dioxide emissions as a byproduct of its treatment. Drain lines remain free of calcification as no hard water is running through them. The only maintenance is an easy change of the cartridge, performed approximately three to four times per year.

He went on to cover case practices of optimization of resources in other places like The Netherlands, where urine is used to make 1/4th of the fertilizers in the country. In Nepal, they carry out urine harvesting and in Sikkim; people are paid to use urinals!

The discussion round opened with many people asking questions about the other advantages of water-free urinals and whether this system can be modified for females toilets as well.

People also talked about how this could impact water saving in Bangalore if implemented properly. As of now the major IT firms have started using this system.

Existing manufacturers will switch to making water-free urinals in the future as it helps to optimize resources like water which are getting scarce. For households this is not a practical model and is more suited to airports and offices.

Mr. Surana concluded by laying emphasis on how urine is a useful resource and the potential it has. However in order to conserve water and promote eco sanitation, people need to be educated.

Overall, the talk helped to put things in perspective and a lot of us learnt consumption patterns of water and just how much wastage takes place.

It is also interesting to see how eco sanitation and water resource mobilization is being done from a commercial aspect and yet there is a social motive behind it.

Look forward to the May Edition of Sustainable Fridays for a very interesting discussion!

Photos of the event: http://greenexcelpartners.com/courses.details.php?course_id=83

More information about Sustainable Fridays: http://greenexcelpartners.com/friday.php

 

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