You can build a playground on top of this sewage treatment plant

An innovative Indian sewage treatment plant inspired by cows will be on display in Atlanta, Georgia, starting this November as part of an exhibition on ‘regenerative design’. The exhibit, called Full Circle:Design Without End, will “showcase the work of designers who are using and experimenting with regenerative approaches to realize works ranging from large-scale architectural projects to everyday products; and provide real-world actions that everyone can take to address the climate change challenge we are facing,” says the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA).

ECOSTP Technologies of Bangalore is the only startup from Asia that will be featured in the exhibit, which will show off its Zero Power Zero Operator design.

The system is cost effective, has lower operational and maintenance expenses and can be designed to suit existing land use planning. Unlike conventional plants, the space above the ECOSTP plant can be used for parking lots, playgrounds, and landscaping. The treated water adheres to all PCB norms, ECOSTP says, and the sewage treatment doesn’t produce unpleasant smells.

Current sewage treatment plants use oxygen-feeding bacteria to break down the waste and require blower motors to provide the oxygen to the bacteria in order to ensure proper functioning. Not only is this expensive, but such plants often emit noxious odours.

The system mimics the digestive system of cows, which has four chambers containing bacteria that do not need oxygen. As grass passes through these chambers, the bacteria break it down into smaller parts eventually converting it to gas, nutrients, water, and waste.

Tharun Kumar and his team developed a treatment plant to mimic this structure and used the bacteria from cow dung to break down the waste in wastewater. Their plants use gravity to move wastewater across chambers. The further wastewater travels, the cleaner it gets. Eventually, the solid waste settles down, and the wastewater is converted into gas and clear water, which can be safely reused outside.

“Using biomimicry, regenerative innovation inspired by nature, ECOSTP mimics the functional working of micro-organisms and ecosystems found in a cow’s stomach”, said Tharun Kumar, the company’s co-founder and CEO. He ‘reverse engineered’ the concept using biomimicry principles, and have improved it over the years.

His company has designed and built 50 sustainable sewage treatment plants, and hopes to export the design to Africa. It also sells do-it-yourself kits.


The zero-power sewage plant inspired by cows. BBC, Aug. 16, 2021.

This Bengaluru Zero-Power Sewage Treatment Plant was Inspired by Cows. News18, Aug. 16, 2021

Bengaluru startup’s technology deriving core concept from cow’s stomach to go global. Deccan Chronicle, Jun 15 2021

ECOSTP website.