Pilot 6 – Anaerobic digestion with electrically conductive biofilter

Location: Kharagpur (West Bengal)
Pilot Leaders: CENTA/IITKGP
Pilot Status: Pilot Status: Pilot is ready, operation will start after receiving EC media from CENTA

Water challenge in this location: IIT Kharagpur campus and nearby states are facing water challenges where people are mostly relying on groundwater source for meeting the water demand. Also, the sanitary infrastructure in this part of country is extremely poor and most of the people are relying on septic tank for treatment of black water and effluent of the septic tank is released in the environment, leading to pollution of surface and groundwater. Hence affordable solutions need to be demonstrated for sustainable decentralized black water treatment for minimizing the water pollution and protection of public health.

Benefits of the technology: The electroconductive biofilter provides the following benefits: Simple operation, robust design, low space requirements, less energy consumption (apart from pumping if required) and zero production of sludge. The electroconductive biofilter will be followed by sand filtration (providing SS and turbidity removal) and disinfection by means of UV –lamps and electrodisinfection (low energy requirements; on site generation, no handling and storage of chemicals; low generation of trihalomethanes). Solar panels will be employed for energy supply in the disinfection unit; thus, increasing the long-term sustainability of the proposed treatment plant.

Potential for India: This system can either be used as secondary or tertiary treatment as an add-on to existing treatment plants, or in combination with e.g. an UASB reactor as in this pilot for complete treatment of blackwater. As outlined earlier, there is a high need of simple and robust wastewater treatment system and therefore this system has a high potential for application in India.

Scope of replication/upscaling across India: As the technology will be locally constructed and implemented as a post treatment of an existing UASB reactor (which also was locally built as part of the Saraswati project) there is a great potential for replication and up-scaling of both the combined package of UASB reactor and post treatment as proposed in this pilot, and the post treatment as an add-on to existing blackwater treatment plants.

Main outcomes: Reuse of the final effluent obtained for irrigation, gardening, flushing, etc.

Pilot 5 – Anaerobic digestion with photoheterotrophic bioreactor

Location: Kharagpur (West Bengal)
Pilot Leaders: TU Delft/IITKGP
Pilot Status: Fabrication and installation in last phase

Water challenges in this location: The intensive use of groundwater in the region heavily affects the groundwater table. The river water procurement incurs high pumping expenditures in terms of energy expenses, manpower & machinery, and capital establishment. The total treatment cost of fresh water used on campus premises is around 25 INR per cubic metres. Depleting groundwater and water resources in and around the region calls for attention towards recycling and reuse of treated water. This can help remediating this critical situation and moving towards a sustainable future by attempting to divert fresh water for domestic uses. After successful demonstration of this technology, similar models can be adopted in across the state where the scarce sanitation infrastructure results in pollution of surface water bodies and groundwater. This unfavourably leads to high expenses on public health care and severe reduction of man-hours and societal productivity. A sustainable solution for black water treatment needs to be demonstrated to provide a healthy living condition for the mass.

Benefits of the technology: The composite process is attractive by combining production of VFA from organic matter via mixed-culture fermentation and production of a protein-rich photoheterotrophic biomass that can be valorised as fertilizer. The benefits of this attractive environmental biotechnology are multiple. It thrives on the implementation of anaerobic organisms, therefore suppressing aeration and minimizing energy costs, resulting in a full biological removal of nutrients from the wastewater. Overall, the technology will result in treatment of blackwater, full biological nutrients removal, pathogens inactivation, recovery of a high-yield and protein-rich biomass as fertilizer, and recovery of water for reuse, while protecting the environment and human health.

Potential for India: The treatment scheme proposed for this pilot uses minimum energy input and also focuses on resource recovery through a very basic innovative design, which can be constructed easily using local resources. It therefore has a lot of potential in terms of application.

Scope for replication/upscaling across India: The ability to implement this technology at a decentralised household level without much cost implication (by use of existing septic tank after certain minor modifications) and lesser footprint on land makes it more adoptable for upscaling in India. The proposition of resource recovery from sludge as fertilizers and reuse of water with limited, but dedicated manual intervention also increases the suitability of this technology for scaling up, both at household community level as well as for centralised treatment facility.

Main outcomes:

  1. Biological nutrients removal
  2. Pathogens inactivation
  3. Recovery of a high-yield and protein-rich biomass
  4. Recovery of treated wastewater for reuse