Skip to main content

The water recycling bio toilets

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RecycLoo (The water recycling bio toilets)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2019-10-31

"In the sanitation and toilets fields, there has been no major innovation since the siphon and the development of urban sewerage in the 19e century. We use drinkable water for toilets for flushing = waste of treated water (60 Billion L of water /day for flushes). It means also pollution of aquatic environments and soils, spread of diseases in emerging countries where diarrhea, cholera, still kill thousands of people. The waste of energy for treatment of faecal sludge in wastewater treatment plants is important. In emerging countries, the urbanization is growing and there is no sewerage or treatment plant, leading to using pit latrines, septic tanks, with all the pollution and risks associated. The UN SDG # 6 to 2030 is to have safe drinking water and sanitation for all.
Alternative systems like dry toilets without flush encounter a user acceptance hurdle. The other one for portable toilets are chemical toilets. Flushes represent thus approximately 5 bn m3 of drinkable water annually wasted for the toilets in Europe. The absence of connection to water network and sewer is a real pain point for those who have to offer affordable and sustainable toilet facilities to their visitors.
WeCo offers a sustainable and innovative waste-water treatment technology that enables a closed loop flush for autonomous toilets. This solution will answer the needs of people having no water or no sewer connection, or willing to limit their water consumption. As such, WeCo provides a new solution for outdoor public toilets (for municipalities, theme park operators…), for mobile toilets (for construction sites, events…), for indoor toilets in non-sewered new or renovated buildings, and for train toilets."
We performed:
1. An audit of potential industrial partners to draft an industrial roadman and estimation of the costs to industrialize our technology. Knowing that we are co-developing our technology for the trains with Alstom to industrialize it, and with the audition of other industrial companies, we estimate that making the functional prototype with ICAM would be more cost-efficient.
2. Filing of patents for our waste-water treatment technology using biological and electrolysis treatments: we performed an in-deep analysis of the patents filed for waste water treatment around the world and concluded that our technology of black water treatment by biological and electrolysis treatments was innovative and patentable.
3. Market Research analysis of the eco-friendly toilets in Europe: the market potential for our technology was confirmed since the governments support and the customers expect toilets technologies like ours. WeCo is the only company developing an offering high technology of waste water treatment on site and recycling for flushing. There is no European manufacturer of eco-friendly flush, innovative, sustainable and autonomous toilets at an industrial level, except WeCo. In the market study, WeCo was already mentioned as a new comer and the other EU manufacturers were only low tech outdoor dry bio composting toilets. Such bio toilets are for rural areas and cannot been implemented indoor and/or in urban areas, like WeCo solutions can.
4. A business plan to prepare our fundraising: we have prepared a detailed Business Plan with a CFO experienced in industrial SMEs that have developed abroad. The need has been estimated to 1M€ for early 2020. Thanks to this work, we are now incubated by the EU organization Invest Horizon “Fast Track to Series A Investment” and start meeting with investors. We also benefited from a coach with the SMEI Grant that helped us to prepare for the fundraising.
For non-sewered buildings/locations, solutions are today either dry or chemical toilets:
Dry toilets rely on the simple collection of excrements in a tank under the toilet seat. The material collected has to be regularly collected. Dry toilets are most of the time provided with tanks filled with sawdust. Composting takes time to degrade the bacteria and is unsure. In most European countries, dry toilet is considered as low-quality and low-tech sanitation, with the main issues perceived being the odours and proximity of excrements that do not “disappear” without flush. The importance of the flush for the user satisfaction has been taken into consideration by WeCo from the very beginning of the project in order to guarantee a wide acceptance of the innovative solution proposed.
Chemical toilets are the most common solutions for temporary needs such as events or construction sites. They contain clean water and a waste tank in the cabin. The waste tank must be drained regularly to enable further usage. Chemical products are used to neutralize the odours and to prevent any disease propagation. Those products are then sent back to sanitation plant and are difficult to eradicate, polluting the water.
WeCo R&D has two major goals to achieve comparing to the state of the art:
- Treat the faecal sludge and recycle it into compost: this is the biological treatment part, which is long and uncertain and for which we need to hire a PhD to develop a future patentable and secure technology;
- Recycle the liquid into treated and clean water for flushing: this is the Electro Chemical Reactor for which we have filed the patents but still need some developments.
For that we have create a R&D consortium with European Institute of Membranes and University of East Paris (Laboratory of Earth Materials and Environment).
WeCo has advantageously considered environment and users in the development of its solution. Therefore, WeCo system is eco-designed and matches the expectations of the circular economy. Indeed, wastes are fully recycled (liquids in water, solids for composting or energy) on site. WeCo system is the only one providing a flush while being environmentally friendly, robust and industrially scalable.
Directional Scheme of WeCo Technology
Technical area with tanks and ECR