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.