Automatic humanure transfer system

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure: Automatic humanure transfer system
Author: James Greene
Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - 3:24 am
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Greetings,

I've read most of Humanure Handbook and I have an idea for a humanure composting system that moves the humanure to the compost pile more conveniently than using the 'sawdust toilet' described in the book. It's not that I dislike the sawdust toilet concept, but I think that a slightly more convenient "toilet emptying system" might be adopted by many people who are afraid to carry the bucket or who simply don't want to deal with the inconvenience.

Therefore I have an idea for a different system. Please feel free to give me your input because I have not done my own composting yet and I appreciate any insights you have about this potential system:

Instead of using a sawdust bucket, install a macerating toilet that grinds up the feces and urine (like a blender might do) and pumps it thru a pipe that discharges onto the top of (or into the middle of) the compost pile.

This system would take a bit of electricity, and special installation may be required in cold climates to keep the discharge pipe from freezing. But the advantage when properly installed is that it effectively eliminates the need to manually empty the toilet bucket, thus providing nearly the same level of convenience as a traditional flush toilet system. The owner will still have to go out and add more (relatively dry) organic matter to the compost pile, especially if the humanure is discharged on top of the pile, but he will never again have to carry, empty or wash a bucket.

While this system clearly requires the periodic replacement of worn out macerator pumps, this seems like a reasonable trade-off for the added convenience of not having to empty the poop bucket manually any more. And although macerating toilets use minimal water during the flush, they still add more water to the compost, which brings up an important question:

Do you think this system will add too much moisture to the compost?

I do not have any idea how much liquid a compost pile can handle before it 'drowns'. The book says moisture is necessary because of evaporation, but would this system add too much extra moisture? That's my primary question at this point.

I don't think the macerating of the humanure would create any problems in and of itself, because it's the same material that's being delivered to the compost pile, it's just ground up into much smaller pieces. Presumably this may generate even higher composting temperatures due to the smaller particle size which will accelerate bio-availability of the ingredients in the humanure. The bacteria will likely digest the nutrients at a much higher rate and consume then in a shorter time period, thus generating higher temperatures but for a shorter period of time.

If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions about this kind of system please let me know. I think the concept of composting humanure is excellent, and at the same time I think that a transfer system like this one might encourage more people to recycle instead of 'waste' ... or at least that's what I'm hoping for.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
James Greene

P.S. This message was initially posted in the wrong classification because of a problem with the "Topics" link. I apologize for that error.

Author: TCLynx
Saturday, December 31, 2005 - 4:25 pm
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I'm not sure how this system would deal with adding the extra cover material. If the user didn't get to it often and quickly the smell would likely cause problems. I would fear that if someone isn't able to handle emptying buckets, they probably will not be much interested in managing the compost properly.

Most of the comercial composting systems that use a small amount of water for their toilets, have a method of evaporating the excess liquid. These systems primarily dehydrate instead of composting.

Author: TCLynx
Saturday, December 31, 2005 - 4:28 pm
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Another option along these lines though I'm sure it won't be happening on a large scale any time soon.

There are small on site sewage treatment systems that the resultant sluge could then be composted though this is a rather $$ way to go about things.

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