Science & Technology
Unique design for better performanceThe Clivus is the most reliable and efficient composting toilet because of its superior design. An aerated micro-environment is crucial to any composting process and is maintained through the drawing effect of the ventilation fan and air channels through the compost pile. This unique system ensures complete decomposition of the waste during its long residence time. A large inspection door is also unique to the Clivus and allows the user to easily check that the system is functioning efficiently. Another design feature of the Clivus composting chamber is that access to the old and new compost are kept separate. The older, fully composted material settles to the bottom of the chamber where it is easily removed via the front access hatch.
A continuous composting processThe Clivus system is based on a “continuous” composting process in one large chamber, as against multiple smaller chambers that require a restart of the process after emptying. As the organic material decomposes it reduces in volume by up to 90%. The compost pile is therefore always “shrinking in the middle” whilst new material is being added to the top, and finished compost is removed from the bottom of the pile when appropriate.
Advantages of a continuous composting process
- As only one large composting chamber is used, the contents are in a more stable environment and are kept moist through normal use. In "batch" systems where the full chamber must be moved away while the next chamber is being filled, the first chamber often dries out and does not fully decompose.
- This problem does not arise with a Clivus!
- There is little risk of overfilling the composting chamber due to the Clivus' greater capacity, which makes it very tolerant to extremes in the rate of usage.
- Only a relatively small and manageable amount of finished compost is removed at any one time. This means there is no heavy lifting or moving of smelling bins.
- A larger area of compost bed means there will be greater liquid evaporation without the use of heaters. Urine is well-treated by passing through the larger compost bed and converted to an innocuous liquid.
The relatively simple design of the Clivus renders it far less susceptible to mechanical problems than other composting systems.
Composting is the bio-chemical decomposition of organic matter by aerobic organisms, i.e., organisms which get oxygen from the atmosphere and give off carbon dioxide. Composting takes place in all soils which support plant and animal life.
This process is distinct from anaerobic decomposition, which takes place naturally in water-saturated environments such as swamps, and is typical of septic tanks. Anaerobic, or liquid-saturated, conditions produce methane and the offensive odors associated with septic systems. Clivus Multrum composting toilet solutions use aerobic decomposition in the controlled environment of the compost chamber and, therefore, cannot produce methane.
The Clivus Multrum composting toilet slowly breaks down both urine and human waste into stable, organic compounds within the composting chamber. The sloped design (“Clivus Multrum” means inclined chamber) separates urine from human waste.
As urine moves by gravity to the lowest point of the composting chamber, bacterial action converts urine (urea and ammonia), into a nitrogen-rich liquid that can be used as a fertilizer. Use of the liquid-end product as a fertilizer may or may not be regulated by local authority.
The separation of urine from human waste ensures that human waste remain in an aerobic environment which includes bacteria, fungi, insects and compost worms. The organisms slowly break down human waste into a dry- compost material that has chemically, biologically and aesthetically similar to topsoil. The dry end-product contains a wide array of plant nutrients and is intended to be used as a fertilizer/soil conditioner. Its use may or may not be regulated by state and local government authorities. Furthermore, the composting process reduces its volume, which is mostly water, by over 90%.
Carbon dioxide (CO²) and water vapour are the primary gases created by aerobic decomposition and these are extracted by a continuously operating fan.
Potential human pathogens are either killed by predatory organisms, a lack of water or by the long retention time in the system, as demonstrated by USA’s National Sanitation Foundation field testing. No compost is removed before a year of use and it is often several years before any is taken out of the compost tank.
The environmental benefits of using a composting toilet are numerous:
Conventional ‘waste’ treatment systems (both sewer and septic systems) mix human waste with a large amount of water, and both discharge most of the nutrients into water: sewers into oceans, bays, and rivers; septic systems indirectly into groundwater. In oceans, rivers, and bays this causes first, the proliferation of aquatic plant life, then, as the plant life dies and decays, the removal of oxygen from the water and finally, the destruction of habitat.
Clivus Multrum composting toilet solutions evaporate excess liquid and diffuses it into the atmosphere, meaning no contaminated polluted water is released unnecessarily into our water supplies. Any liquid that is not evaporated flows through an excess liquid drain into a small gravel pit. This may be only 1.5 litres per person per day compared with a septic system which can allow seepage of up to 125 litres per person per day (sewerage mixed with all other greywater).
Save water, electricity and therefore money
Clivus Multrum waterless composting toilet solutions do not require power or water. No chemicals are required either.
Our waterless composting toilets use absolutely no water, as against a conventional flush toilet which can consume around 60,000 litres a year. With more and more councils imposing charges on water consumption, this saving converts to dollars!
For nearly all of our agricultural history, humans have practiced sustainable farming, including the use of composted human waste for fertilizer. Only in the second half of the 20th century did people begin to abandon the principles of reuse that were once required by our circumstances.
The benefit of a composting toilet is that aerobic bacteria works to break down human waste into useable elements like water and carbon dioxide. Both of these are dissolved into the atmosphere, along with the residual moisture that is evaporated.
What remains of the waste has reduced in volume by about 90% and is chemically, biologically and aesthetically similar to topsoil. This dry-compost material is collected via the inspection door and can be used as garden compost.