Talk:Factor e Farm Infrastructure Buildout 2011
IMO, ditch the flushie if you can. I have read a lot about composting toilets and similar systems, and they are not that easy to do. I have though ta lot about a closed loop flush toilet. A quick one that is not well designed will be a health hazard and a real pain to maintain. It would also likely be against the local health codes. I have heard and read that there are various laws in the US that prohibit reusing blackwater altogether, for anything, too. Only greywater may be recycled. that, not technical reasons, is the main reason there is no such water recycling toilet for cottages etc.
There are systems like the biolytix that could be copied if you could analyze it but if not done right the worm drown and die off when you don't expect it, the bed may gets clogged too easily to allow water through, channels may develop in the filter bed, allowing water out which still has a high BOD, etc.
Stick with the humanure type of toilets, it looks simple but the stuff going on is quite complex and it's not that easy to improve upon. Gregor 02:10, 2 July 2011 (PDT)
Think of closed loop toilet as a clean interface on top of a vermiposting system. We are an experimental facility, codes do not apply here. - MJ 7/2/11
Oh, well if codes are taken care of (please make sure to share how you did this in the right place as from my reading of people trying to do innovative things like this, zoning, building codes, health codes, are a major major problem, usually insurmountable. See Joel of polyface's essay "everything I want to do is illegal", I strongly suspect zoning etc will be a major stumbling block to starting OSE villages)
If you read my blog you will see some evidence of how much interest I have had in this (towardsabettertinyhouse). What you are talking about is a so called biolytic system. I have read about this, and my comments are quite correct. A quick and dirty one may well work to some degree, but there will be issues like I mentioned that will not be easy to resolve, and may be a health hazard. There have been many biolytic systems sold for cottages etc. and they all had problems that caused them to fail in the market.
The guy who runs the biolytix company used to sell an earlier version, in fact, and he went out of business and had to start a new company. People were suing him and so forth trying to get their money back as it just didn't work. Sorry, but it is naive to think that this is just a quick and easy side project.
In blackwater treatment in a context like this there are 2 main issues(and many smaller issues): disinfection and removal of nutrients, mainly BOD and/or nitrites/nitrates. You have to remove the nutrients because bacteria, most problematically anaerobic bacteria, of which a number are seriously pathogenic (such as causing pneumonia) and which produce foul smells as a byproduct of metabolism, will grow in the water as it stands otherwise.
The growth rate goes down as the concentration of nutrients does as described by the monod equation, and of course is also proportional to the quantity of bacteria present. Together these have to be low enough that the addition of chlorine, silver or iodine is sufficient in reasonable amounts to make life too difficult for bacteria to grow significantly. Otherwise the water will become hazardous in storage.
A bioreactor is used to do it, whether it takes the form of vermicomposter, microorganism composter, or conventional water treatment system. In either case IIRC microorganisms do the main part of the work of digesting the nutrients, in vermicomposting the worms help to enhance the aeration and water permeability etc. in a supportive role.
The microbes have to be kept in the reactor somehow, either by attaching to solids like soil particles or by separating it from the outgoing water by floculation, settling, particle filtration, centrifuging, evaporation or whatever.
A septic tank much reduces the nitrogen present, which the anaerobes use for respiration, to reduce the growth rate. It uses settling. It leaves a foul smell and is a health hazard as the treatment is plain inadequate leaving too much stuff. Also needs a large tank as the processing rate is very slow.
Aerobic treatment systems include composting toilets, biolytic ones, and the main part of conventional plants (though they use a combination when it suits them).
I'll skip the details, but if people just can't bear to part with their flushies, then probably the most long term reliable way that is workable for recycling and in the public domain (unlike biolytix system) would based on rotating biological contactors to provide both aeration and retention of biomass. Probably 3 stage to keep the size about a third the size of a single stage unit. Before them would be an anaerobic and settling stage for settling of toilet paper etc. as that really helps reduce the BOD and particulates. Then put it through a chlorinator like the QAEC I describe on my blog.
Better still though is to stick to humanure systems, simpler, cheaper, easier, proven trouble free. There are systems that eliminate the buckets etc. out there and can be copied.
Actually, come to think of it, maybe with microflush toilets (0.5 liters) it could be done as an interface to the humanure system, but I see no advantages to vermicomposting over humanure unless it makes better fertilizer or something. You would have to check to see if the amount of water going onto the pile is excessive by comparing the amount that should be added according to the humanure handbook. I suspect it would be.
Lastly, a legitimate option is to just use shower water to flush then pasteurize the water an just put it at some distance away downwind as fertilizer, or dehydrate and pasteurize for solid fertilizer. The only problem is smell, but I wonder if it would really be that bad, as long as it does not stand long enough for any anaerobic decomposition and is spread adequately it is no different from sheep goat cow or dog poop.