Modelling Heat Transfer and Pathogen Disinfection in a Biogas-Powered Self-Sanitizing Toilet
The problem of inadequate sanitation in less developed countries has dire health consequences such as diarrheal diseases. A household-scale sanitation system consisting of an anaerobic digester, heat exchanger, and biogas-powered heater, was developed to provide a simple, potentially low cost and low carbon-footprint solution to this problem. A conceptual model was developed to predict the effectiveness of the heat sterilization system in reaching the appropriate temperatures to significantly inactivate pathogens such as E. coli, helminthe ova, and viruses. Lab experiments with a stainless steel heater and exchanger were used to establish model parameters and to verify the model. Though the model sometimes predicts higher or lower values than the experimental data, probably due to uncertainties in pathogen decay constants and in the different heat transfer coefficients, the model adequately predicts temperature across the heat exchanger and heater, and can provide a preliminary estimate of pathogen inactivation within the system. Both disinfection experiments showed the system reduces E. coli concentrations to below the WHO limit, which was predicted by the model.
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