Replacing septic tanks by biogas digesters - School sanitation story from India

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Trichy - Dalmiapuram

Country: India

India: Replacing septic tanks by biogas digesters

Basic data:

Bio-digester tank systems were installed in early 2013 reaching more than 2,500 children with the pilot project, the overall mandate is to upgrade sanitation systems of 350 schools to sustainable ones. Biogas digesters are a suitable sanitation solution for schools which can replace septic tanks while the end produce can be used as fertiliser in school gardens.

The project and the experiences:

Banka BioLoo Pvt Ltd. has grass-root experiences with sustainable sanitation solutions, especially the biodigester. Its solutions address the need for basic, easy-to-install and hygienic human waste disposal mechanism in areas with no infrastructural facilities, as well as the need for cheaper and easy-to-operate alternatives to the traditional waste disposal system.

The “Andhra Pradesh Education Welfare and Infrastructure Development Corporation” APEWIDC, a government owned entity entrusted by the Indian “Rajiv Vidya Mission”, a government sponsored scheme with the objective to reach universalization of primary school education of satisfactory quality, was in particular interested in constructing and restoring school sanitation in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India by implementing the innovative bio-digester technology for the toilets in its residential schools.

The technology installed in these schools involves a bio-tank that consists of a series of baffled chambers. At the bottom of each chamber, activated bacterial fluid is retained. During inflow into the chamber, the wastewater is intensively mixed with the sludge whereby it is inoculated with wastewater organisms, which decompose the pathogens in an anaerobic condition. The products of this digestion are the liquid effluent which is partly sanitized and can be used as fertiliser in agriculture and biogas which is a fuel and can be used for cooking or lighting.

The bio-digester tank systems were installed in early 2013 and are still functioning well. While more than 2,500 children were reached with the pilot project, the overall mandate is to upgrade sanitation systems of 350 schools to sustainable ones.

In order to understand the efficacy and the functioning of the bio-digester system, a pilot project was launched including five schools all across the state. Banka BioLoo started to share knowledge and details with school administrative staff right from the project initiation. During summer vacation, when the students were at home and the school was relatively empty, a construction contractor appointed by APEWIDC redesigned the huge septic tanks to bio-tanks. Banka BioLoo provided necessary digester designs, guidance and other support including several site visits. Once tanks were installed, the company provided bacterial culture and ensured that the system was functioning well. APEWIDC was responsible for the costs and financing.

After the implementation was finished, Banka BioLoo interacted with school officers and teachers. They expressed satisfaction with the fact that their human waste was being treated at the source. They were happy to use the treated effluent to irrigate the plants within the school campus. The next step will be to collect and utilize the produced biogas for cooking.

Key lessons of the story:

Banka BioLoo is engaged in the eradication of open defecation. The company provides environmentally-friendly bio-toilets, and also supports the conversion of conventional toilets to bio-toilets through the bio-tanks that hold the bio-digester bacteria that treat the human waste at source. The bio-toilets are branded ELOOs – the Bio-digester toilets. The company offers bio-toilets for families, public, community, schools, institutions and companies; bio-tanks for Indian Railways and other organizations, bio-digester bacteria for bio-toilets and bio-tanks, and upgrade of septic tanks to bio-tanks. It also services bio-toilets and similar advanced toilet technology deployed by the Railways, and has entered into annual operations and maintenance contracts with Railway zones.

Contribution to the SuSanA sustainability criteria

Environment and natural resources: The toilet products are safely used in the school garden.

Technology and operation: The bio-digester is an appropriate, sustainable technology.

Project details

Type of project: Pilot project

Project period: Early/Mid 2013

Start of operation: 2013

Project scale: Sustainable Sanitation systems in 5 schools

Banka BioLoo Pvt Ltd is women led business organization engaged in promoting and developing innovative environmental friendly products and services for Human Waste Management System. Their main focus is to deal with the problem of open defecation. Their technology helps in degrading Human waste.


Logo banka bioloo.png

Sanjay Banka

Banka BioLoo Pvt Ltd