Traveling long-distance by train in India is an unwelcome prospect for many reasons, awful loos being one of them. A waterless and odorless toilet designed by a student from Manipal University, may thankfully put an end to this problem. The concept was submitted by Vinod Anthony Thomas (Faculty of Architecture student), as an entry to a contest announced by the Indian Railways.
The sanitation facilities currently offered in trains running the length and breadth of the country are not just smelly, but unhygienic too. Flushes don’t work properly most of the time and human waste matter is deposited directly onto the tracks. Hence the Indian Railways decided to run a competition inviting ideas for switching this rudimentary system to a waterless and odorless design.
The loo conceptualized by Vinod, has a crank wheel in place of a flush for water. When the user pulls on it, the waste is carried away in a hermetically sealed container through a conveyor mechanism. This pocket containing the waste is taken to a spacious collection bin where it is stored for decomposition. The method also involves a forced ventilation system in order to enable evaporation of the liquids present.
By breaking down the waste through decomposition and forced ventilation, the collection space in which it ends up, will have enough capacity to store it hygienically during long journeys. Oftentimes, it’s an ineffective flush that holds on to odor and dirt in a loo, rather than inadequate quantities of water. The new toilet model might be able to deal with this issue optimally when implemented.
Vinod’s waterless and odorless concept won the second prize (Rs 75000) in the competition. The second place was shared with another project by two other designers, Rahul Garg and Saurabh Hans. The winners were picked by a panel of judges comprising of experts from the railway, industry and academia/research fields.