Aerosan started life, in 2014, with the objective of designing and supplying an above-ground toilet (singles or arrays) that could be manufactured cheaply using locally available materials when possible, be packable for easy and compact shipping and that could be erected by local operators within hours.
A user-friendly experience coupled with durable materials that can be replaced locally means toilets have a longer life cycle.
Lightweight and flat packable, Aerosan toilets can be quickly and easily shipped to humanitarian or development sites.
Using lightweight, inexpensive materials means that production and shipping costs can be kept low.
The key design principle attributed to this above ground design is the airflow from beneath the toilet which exits through a flue at the back. The idea was to remove odours, insects and partially dry the waste so that it would be easier to handle and better suited to use as a soil enhancer.
The initial target populations were to be people displaced in emergency situations or people in refugee camps. The above-ground design, with disposability via a bucket system was considered a much better system than digging pit latrines.
Several of our arrays were successfully constructed following the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and the design was presented at several WASH conferences and exhibitions in India and the USA. As a result Aerosan received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to carry on this design and testing.
We encountered a significant issue – applicable also to pit latrines and other toilet designs – in the original design. In dealing with large quantities of wet faecal sludge, which is difficult and unsafe to handle, the aeration of the waste was not sufficient in all environmental conditions. Thus, with the assistance of the University of Laval (Quebec) and the University of Victoria (Canada), Aerosan has embarked on a research project that will test the desiccation rates of faecal sludge at various temperatures and weather conditions. This is an ongoing research.