Monday, September 21, 2015

Hybrid Vacuum Toilets Developed By Indian Railways

Hybrid Vacuum Toilets To Be Used In Indian Railways


Minister of Railways has declared in the 2015 Railway Budget Speech that Indian Railways is planning to fit Vacuum toilets on its trains. Vacuum toilets are specially used in aircrafts which evacuates its discharge into a bio-digester tank attached with it.

Generally, a conventional toilet or Bio-toilet uses 10 to 15 liters of water per flush whereas the vacuum toilet consumes only approximately 500 ml of water per flushing. Presently, vacuum toilets fitted in train coaches in foreign countries have a “retention tank” underneath the coach that holds all the human waste that is flushed out by the toilet. These large tanks need to be emptied at the terminals stations. The problem with Indian Railways is that there are long distance trains with journey times as long as 72 hours and generally over 50 passengers per coach, therefore it is nearly impossible to hold the human waste in retention tanks on such trains. These tanks will create additional problem at the time of evacuation as they will require ground facility for their evacuation which should be maintained very carefully else their malfunction will render the entire train’s toilets unusable. This huge discharge of human waste will put immense pressure on the sewer system of the places these ground-handling facilities are to be created. Also, one-shot rapid discharge of human waste of an entire train into a sewer system may not be possible at all stations.

Development Cell of the Railway Board has come up with a “Hybrid Vacuum Toilet” design that combines the advantages of Vacuum toilets and those of Bio-toilets. A prototype has been made by Indian Railways as a first ever system of its kind to have been developed and built by any railway system in the world. This newly developed toilet has been fitted in one coach No. 153002/C FAC that is running in Dibrugarh Rajdhani for trail. 

The prototype consists of a custom designed Vacuum toilet which evacuates its discharge into a bio-digester tank. The bio-digester tank is fitted underneath the coach and contains anaerobic bacteria that converts human faecal matter into water and small amount of gases before discharging the same on the ground/ track. This eliminates the need to create separate ground handling installation and the problem of additional sewer load is solved easily. The vacuum toilet uses very small quantity of water as compared to bio-toilets/ conventional toilets, saving large quantity of water which is a very precious natural resource.

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