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NEWgenerator off grid sanitation system for rural Eastern Cape School

The multi-user toilet block connected to the NEWgenerator in Slovoville. (Image source: WEC Projects)

WEC Projects, a local EPC water and wastewater treatment contractor, has secured its first commercial order for the NEWgeneratorTM sanitation system

Its designed by a team of engineers at the University of South Florida (USF), USA and built under licence in South Africa by WEC Projects, provides proper sewage treatment for use in areas where  infrastructure is lacking, making it ideal for communities which rely on conventional solutions such as pit or portable toilets. In addition, the design of the system allows for the recycling of the water used for toilet flushing as well as the utilisation of the biogas produced during the treatment process.

Tim Fisher, manager of process engineering at WEC Projects, said, “The system, based on the NEWgenerator 100 model which is capable of handling waste from up to 100 users, will be installed at the Khanyisani Primary School in Lubunde, near Bizana in the Eastern Cape. The school, located in a rural area, lacks a consistent water supply. The NEWgenerator system will not only treat the sewage produced by the school’s toilet block but the treated water produced by the sanitation process will be recycled back to the toilet block for reuse, ensuring a consistent water supply. While the recycled water will not be treated to human consumption standards it will be suitable for use reuse in the toilets. In addition, the biogas produced by the sewage treatment process will potentially be utilised by the school for cooking and heating purposes, resulting in a reduction in its power consumption.”

NEWgenerator is a compact, portable and modular sewage treatment solution that can be built into a standard shipping container. It incorporates an anaerobic digestor utilising appropriate microorganisms to treat the sewage and produce biogas. Clean water is filtered, with bacteria, viruses and any remaining solid particles removed, and then disinfected through a chlorination system. Up to 99% of the water can be recycled for reuse in the system. The nutrient rich treated waste is an ideal crop fertiliser for use by local small-scale and informal farmers.

WEC Projects is using the contract as an opportunity to optimise the design of the NEWgenerator unit for local conditions. The project will be funded by through the WRC’s SASTEP programme. In addition, NEWGenerator offers employment and franchisable economic opportunities for local small businesses and entrepreneurs who can provide sales, installation and maintenance of the units to the surrounding communities along with training and upskilling for the youth. It can also address the ongoing challenge of food security for rural communities with its nutrient-rich solid waste. As an inexpensive fertiliser, it can help emerging small farmers optimise crop yields for local consumption as well as enable them to on sell surplus produce to local retailers.