Perhaps in the middle of the blackout, which recently left 620 million people without power, an enterprising young Indian engineer found himself sitting on a toilet in the dark.
While this is most likely not the case, it’s an explanation which could potentially explain the news recently released by The Siasat Daily that India is attempting to power 1,000 eco-toilets by harnessing the methane released by human waste.
Having just recently installed the public eco-toilets in a bid to stave off open defecation, it became apparent that when using the government-supplied loos that night time visitors were left to do their business in total darkness.
When it came time to evaluate the design, in addition to widening the toilets and adding cross-ventilation, the possibility of putting a light inside of the toilet was also raised. This inevitably prompted researchers to figure out how to harness the methane accumulating inside of the toilet and use the gas to power a simple light.
According to the article, these eco-toilets use “bio-digester technology,” where bacteria feeds on the human fecal matter and releases two byproducts: methane and water.
While the jury is still out on how to effectively use the methane, solutions have already been found as to what to do with the water.
Apparently, the idea is to use it as a safe source of drinking water for local animals; it has also recently been used in the irrigation of local vegetables.
[Image courtesy of Flickr user Sustainable sanitation]