Cape Town – A lecturer and his team from the University of Cape Town (UCT) have won an international sustainability competition with their self-sustaining toilet hub that converts urine and faeces into fertilizers and compost.
“The toilet hub is not connected to a conventional sewage network, requires no electricity to operate and it can be easily scaled up by merely increasing the number of toilet hubs using the profits generated from the waste recycling,” said Dr Dyllon Randall, a senior lecturer in water quality in the Department of Civil Engineering.
“It contains a urine treatment process as well as a faeces collection system for eventual composting. It’s different to current toilets in this area because it separates the urine and faeces within the toilet while using no water,” Randall said.
Dr Randall and his multi-national team won the global sustainability prize at UNLEASH 2018 in Singapore with their SaniHive prototype, derived from sani for ‘sanitation’ and hive from the ‘beehive’.
According to Dr Randall, the innovation would also create employment.
“Local people could transport the waste to mini treatment plants where high-end products could be created,” Randall explained.
UNLEASH 2018 is a global innovation lab that brings together 1 000 top young talents, aged between 20 and 35 years, from 100 countries.
“It is very rewarding to see one of our young researchers being recognised for their innovative work,” said Professor Pilate Moyo, head of the Civil Engineering department at UCT.
“As a department, we value innovation. We are extremely proud of Dyllon and the pioneering work he is doing in wastewater.”
Randall explained that the SaniHive wouldn’t only be useful in an urban slum.
“You can use the same methodology in richer suburbs, where you create an integrated, decentralised system with a mini treatment plant in the neighbourhood. The challenge would be to separate the waste,” he said.
Randall and his group hope to pursue the SaniHive innovation and plan to approach funders to help commercialise the technology.