Enhancing Performance and Social Acceptability of the Ventilated Improved Pit Toilet

EPA Grant Number: SU834297
Title: Enhancing Performance and Social Acceptability of the Ventilated Improved Pit Toilet
Investigators: Watkins, David , Michalek, Donna J. , Paterson, Kurtis G.
Current Investigators: Watkins, David , Fuchs, Valerie , Gossen, Craig , Guzak, Kristine , Hanson, Cara , Landick, Kimberly , Marek, Stefan , Michalek, Donna J. , Paterson, Kurtis G. , Thode, Ashley
Institution: Michigan Technological University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $9,991
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


This project seeks to improve the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilets by optimizing air flow through the toilet superstructure, pit, and vent pipe for the purposes of vector and odor control. In addition, social acceptability analysis will be done to help evaluate the potential of VIP toilets as an appropriate sanitation technology in rural communities.


An interdisciplinary team of engineering and social science students will develop and evaluate design alternatives for VIP toilets. They will analyze field data, perform computer simulations, construct and monitor a design prototype, and conduct surveys of VIP toilet users to inform the design process.

Expected Results:

More than 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to sanitation facilities, and many regions are behind pace to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals’ target of reducing by half the proportion of the population in this predicament by the year 2015. Furthermore, millions of tons per year of human waste go uncollected and untreated around the world, which seriously threatens ecosystem health as well as human health. In rural and peri-urban areas, water-less sanitation technologies such as VIP toilets are often considered appropriate sanitation solutions. Improving the performance, cost-effectiveness, and social acceptability of these systems can help to solve the global sanitation crisis. Students on the design team will benefit from multi-disciplinary and intercultural perspectives and will develop the skills necessary for invention and promotion of appropriate technologies. The students will enroll in a new course on appropriate technology design, and project outcomes will also be integrated into existing international programs at Michigan Tech University.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Sustainability, Computational fluid dynamics,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report