The Earth Auger Toilet: Innovation in waterless sanitation - Various documents on results from research grant

Fioravanti, M., (2013)

Published in: 2013

Fundación In Terris, Ecuador

Fioravanti, M.,

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Content - Summary

This library entry contains background documents for a grant that Marcos Fioravanti is leading and which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Further information and a discussion is available on the SuSanA discussion Forum, see link below.

Goal(s): The goal of this project was to develop several prototypes of a mechanised, pedal-operated, low-cost, easy-to-use, odourless urine-diverting dry toilet (UDDT).

Objectives (or activities or key research components):

1. Development of prototypes: Several prototypes of “El Taladro de la Tierra“ (The Earth Auger) were designed based on earlier work Dr. Henry had done at the University of Washington. These are decentralized pedal-operated urine-diverting dry toilets (UDDT) where diverted urine is infiltrated into the ground and faeces are being composted. The main innovations with the prototypes were the mechanised, foot-pedal-actuated dry-flush system and sawdust delivery systems. When the pedal is operated the faeces, cleansing paper and automatically added sawdust are mechanically processed through a pipe with an auger inside, which mixes, aerates and moves them through a composting chamber to storage (e.g., buckets). In storage it is detained for an additional 1-5 months (depending upon number of users) for compost stability and pathogen kill prior to being used as a soil amendment. Direct handling of excreta by the user is thus not required as the whole process is pedal-operated until harvest. The urine is harvested separately in hose-connected containers, or mixed with wash water and used in a grey water system. The toilets differ in price and number of accessories: in mass production the different units are expected to cost between US$150 and US$ 300.

2. Testing: Six families in Ecuador tested two different Earth Auger prototypes. The overall results were great acceptability and all families would be willing to pay around US$150 for the toilet. Concerns included the sawdust handling as it could be associated with breathing allergies, the potential for lever to get broken (happening in only one of the tested prototypes), and being able to aim the urine stream into the urine diversion component. Preliminary pathogen analyses suggested more rapid dieoff with our system compared to traditional vault systems (we will focus on pathogen dieoff in our future work).

3. Improvement of prototypes: The major following improvements have been identified and will be tested: Single or double-augered pipe in the compost chamber; introducing urine in the compost auger system; pedal construction with direct gears instead of chains; optimisation of the system to avoid any risk of the auger jamming; design of storage chamber(s) for easy handling and replacement; design of pedestals and seats for infants; and alternative materials for sawdust.

Start and end date: April 2011 to October 2012

Documents available for download below:

1 - A mechanized, pedal operated urine diverted dry toilet (presentation at FSM2 Conference in Durban, South Africa, Oct. 2012)

2 - Presentation about Earth Auger toilet (Oct. 2013)

3 - Poster about Earth Auger toilet at FSM3 Conference in Hanoi (Jan. 2015)

The information on this page is provided under a CC BY SA licence.

Bibliographic information

Fioravanti, M., (2013). The Earth Auger Toilet: Innovation in waterless sanitation - Various documents on results from research grant. Fundación In Terris, Ecuador

Filter tags

Composting, vermicomposting (solid waste), composting toilets English Fundamental research and engineering Latin America & Caribbean Urine diversion dehydration toilets (UDDTs)

Information on external sites


1 - A mechanized, pedal operated urine diverted dry toilet (presentation at FSM2 Conference in Durban, South Africa, Oct. 2012)

Format: pdf file
Size: 1.72 MB

2 - Presentation about Earth Auger toilet (Oct. 2013)

Format: pdf file
Size: 1.61 MB

3 - Poster about Earth Auger toilet at FSM3 Conference in Hanoi (Jan. 2015)

Format: pdf file
Size: 2.2 MB

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