Fabric Technology For Pit Toilets

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UD research team tests sanitation system using breathable fabric technology in India. The systems employ breathable fabric, the sort you'd find in raincoats and tents, to contain waste and protect nearby groundwater from contamination 

A team of researchers led by Steven K. Dentel, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has been working for several years on a breathable fabric that can be used to line pit toilets and other basic sanitary facilities in developing nations. 

The fabric Dentel and his team are developing is similar to that used in sports jackets and raincoats; it only allows tiny water vapor molecules through. 

Dentel realized this could be a valuable way to filter out liquid water from human waste, letting the pure water escape while retaining everything else. Sewage placed in a container of this fabric would become dehydrated and therefore less hospitable to bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. 

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the project has been in the works for some time. The lab results look promising, but must still be tested in the field. On Dec. 28, a small group led by doctoral student Shray Saxena headed to India to begin the first field test of the new fabric. 

“A lot of people in India right now don’t have improved toilet systems,” says Saxena. “Even in cities like Kanpur, which are really quite developed, people do not have these facilities available to them.” 

Because sanitation in these cities is often decentralized, an advantage of this disposal system is that it does not require connection to central water or sewage lines.

Source: University Of Delaware

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