Renewable and energy management solutions group LTM Energy is preparing to enter the sanitation industry through the launch of an off-grid, customised sanitation solution for the South African – and the broader African – market.
The green economy-focused business aims to pilot the solution after having entered into a technical and commercial partnership with Beijing-based Envirosystems on low-cost sanitation solutions for Africa and India earlier this year.
Teaming up with partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Envirosystems, the University of Science and Technology Beijing and the Water Research Commission of South Africa, LTM will run the first phase of the project from the first quarter of 2020.
“We plan to implement this system commercially, with the aim of [establishing] local manufacturing after the success of the pilot project, which will be tested over the course of three to six months after it is installed at various locations in South Africa,” says CEO Dhevan Pillay.
The local manufacturing initiative is being discussed with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, with LTM considering buying and refurbishing a brownfield manufacturing plant in or about 2021.
Pillay formulated the initiative after attending the Reinvented Toilet expo, hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in China, in 2018.
Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s launch of the Sanitation Appropriate for Education programme and stated national ambitions of eradicating unsafe and inappropriate sanitation facilities within the next three years, Pillay pushed forward with the pilot.
This emerged as Envirosystems, under the incubation and support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, achieved commercial scale of its off-grid sanitation solution in challenging water- and financially-constrained environments.
“In essence, Envirosystems has innovated and commercialised towards achieving the Gates Foundation goal of Reinventing the Toilet for global access,” he says.
Khevna Naran, a chemical engineer by profession, is heading LTM’s sanitation drive.
She says the company is seeking to re-engineer toilet systems that meet user expectations and use less resources, developing innovative ways in which sustainable sanitation solutions can be provided to South Africa.
The pilot project will demonstrate a customised version of the EnviVac off-grid and water saving technology across various sectors including retail, commercial, industrial, schools and tertiary institutions.
LTM, which will be given the licence mandate for Africa and India, will customise the EnviVac system with Envirosystems to make it more efficient and suitable for the South African market, even in regions where there is no grid or municipal system access.
South Africa currently faces a challenge with sanitation given water scarcity and a lack of infrastructure.
Over 40% of South Africans do not have access to safe sanitation and over 4 000 South African schools have pit latrines or no sanitation, she explains, noting that pit-latrine systems have health and safety shortfalls, servicing problems and contaminate the environment.
Further, with climatic shifts in an already water-scarce country, it is senseless to use more than 9 ℓ of potable water to flush toilets, even for areas with sewer systems in place.
The front-end system will use 0.001 kWh of energy, run on solar photovoltaic and use less than 1 ℓ of clean water per flush with minimal maintenance requirements.
“LTM Energy resonates with the ethos of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and we are vested in making a difference in people’s lives and their wellbeing. LTM is committed to changing the landscape of sanitation and improving the circumstances of those less fortunate than ourselves,” Pillay concludes.