New breathable fabric to improve sanitary conditions

Steven K. Dentel
Steven K. Dentel

The breathable fabric which can be used to line pit toilets and other sanitary facilities has been developed by a team of researchers at the University of Delaware in the United States.

A small group led by doctoral student Shray Saxena headed to India to begin the first field test of the new fabric.

Families in two cities, Kanpur and Puri, are trying out the new "eco-vapor" toilet system, with sewage collected in 55-gallon drums lined with the breathable fabric, allowing water vapor to evaporate.

Once water has evaporated, the fabric becomes dehydrated and so less hospitable to bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.

"A lot of people in India right now don't have improved toilet systems," said Mr Saxena.

"Even in cities like Kanpur, which are really quite developed, people do not have these facilities available to them."

The team is led by Steven K. Dentel, professor of civil and environmental engineering with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The fabric is similar to that used in sports jackets and raincoats, only allowing tiny water vapor molecules through.

WaterAid India, a nongovernmental organization, is partnering with the research group on site selection and implementation of the pilot project.