Design and build a decentralized nutrient recovery urinal/udt module

  • NMORY
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Developing urine diversion systems in a developed world context

The greatest issues have been and always will be the following:

1) Transport
2) Content standardization
3) General public taboo regarding pharmaceutical contents and just use in general

To resolve this issues many people are turning to nutrient recovery technology which involves the conversion of urine into end-products that can be marketed as alternative fertilizers. There is also the trend to derive energy through MFCs (microbial fuel cells).

I have been working closely with a few research groups, mainly the civil Eng department at UC Davis who has been developing urea stripping tech and struvite precipitation tech. Over the next year I plan on having designed and built a decentralized nutrient recovery urinal/udt module which will achieve the following:
1) 1:10000 volume reduction through extraction
2) Full resulting fluid epuration for evacuation into available wastewater treatment system/recirculation into greywater reuse and/or drain to yard systems for off grid

The financial leverage point is cost reduction at outdoor events which represents the only viable point of entry along with septic users and cheap awareness-based closed-loop fertilizer for urban forestry operations and other municipal horticulture work. It is paramount to work with city agencies to achieve UD goals in cities, because bottom line, the impacts are at the infrastructure level which they control.

You can contact me at : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I'd love to talk to some folks with festival eco-sanitation experience.
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  • cecile
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  • I am a free lance environmental consultant. I undertake socio-economic studies and research in sanitation projects and translations. I am a former business developer for Ecodomeo (vermicomposting UD toilets manufacturer).
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Re: Urine collection, treatment and use from festivals

Dear Nicolas,

Welcome to SuSanA discussion forum and thank you for your first post!
Could you please introduce yourself and explain the context and objectives of your research?
Best regards,
Cécile

Cécile Laborderie
MAKATI Environnement
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  • NMORY
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Re: Membrane processing of urine into drinking water

Note by moderator: This post was originally in this thread: forum.susana.org/98-resource-recovery-fr...ity-of-ghent-belgium

++++++++

Hi Karoliina,

I know this thread is a little older, but the main problem with onsite nutrient recovery are the energy requirements and time limitations along with strict laws in most developed areas that do not take into consideration the conversion process from black water to grey water (although urine isn't really black water).

This research project shot itself in the foot by promoting the end result being potable water. Furthermore, small particle size filters are quite costly and so is heating a large volume on an overcast day...

My team and I have started to put together a clearer portrait of needs along with barriers to adoption of in situ recovery. There is a good market for portable latrines, yet strong lobbying from a handful of sanitation providers curtail progress here in Canada at least. Regardless, we aim to have a functional full recovery urinal prototype by the end of 2018. We will not claim to produce potable water, but strive for conversion instead which could be evacuated into a nearby catch basin in cities or used to irrigate a nearby green space (if available) permit permitting.

If you want more info, let me know!
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Membrane processing of urine into drinking water

I think it also makes sense to try and understand why these sanitation provides (=municipal sanitation utilities?) are lobbying against such solutions.

While I agree that nutrient recovery is an important topic to work on, these utilities usually struggle with over-nutrition of waterways as their primary technical issues. Of course this is looking at the larger picture very much backwards as it is a result of the lack of nutrient recovery, but in the short term a understandable concern.

Thus being faced which demands to allow discharge to water ways under less stringent permits, and knowing that the public will first blame them if algae blooms etc come up, it is very much understandable that there is a strong lobby against allowing that.

They are probably fearing that portable urinals will be set up in night-life areas or other public places with a lot of day-time visitors and then (after a while, i.e. after the original well-meaning pioneers have been displaced by lower price competitors with less environmental concerns) those nutrients will end up in the water ways more or less unchecked.

Krischan Makowka
Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist
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  • NMORY
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Re: Membrane processing of urine into drinking water

Yeah, I entirely agree. By lobbying I meant the few portable latrine providers (private sector). Although, the idea for us is to offer a product that simultaneously raises awareness through a reward system. Ostara has been making some good strides with retrofit tech on current wastewater treatment facilities in regards to phosphorus content. We are aiming for areas without a sewer network (or a very poor one) or that cannot be connected to one. Although we have received a few requests for domestic urinals from ancillary parts manufacturers which means a portion of the population is demanding some form of alternative to the current system.
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  • Karoliina
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  • I work as a Develoment Finance Manager at FELM, a Finnish NGO working on development aid projects. My backround is very much in the WASH sector, I worked in the Global Dry Toilet Association of Finland promoting dry toilet technologies, ecological sanitation and nutrient recycling.
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Re: Membrane processing of urine into drinking water

Hi,

And many thanks for your answer! What you said about the difficulties of black water vs. grey water (or even better, potable water) is actually very interesting and I have to look into that a bit more and see what our legislation says here in Finland. Altough, I do not think it should be such a problem here, as we have actually have definition (plus base values for nutrients etc) for grey water so as long as the end product fits the limits, I do not see a problem. Now, marketing the leftover water as potable water is another thing, that might not go here either.

I have actually been trying to develop a model for event sanitation, where all nutrients (or at least most of them) would be caught from the toilet outputs in situ, so that the nutrients would be easier to transport and apply, than for example in urine form. I did a very interesting BIOUREA project together with Tampere University of Applied Sciences and the Finnish Environment Institute about using urine as fertilizer (see more: www.huussi.net/en/activities/on-going-projects/biourea/ ) and we found out that one of the issues about using urine is it's hight water content, which makes it very expensive to move around and apply. One of the findings of the projects was, that urine is a very good fertilizer but the volume needs to be smaller. We also came to the conclusion, that one place to start gathering these human produced nutrients (at leats here in Finland) would be different events, as changing the sanitation systems to separately collect urine might take a while still. Where as in events the system is already there, you just need to apply the right kind of toilets and make them cost efective (it is actually very expensive for the events here in Finland to get rid of the toilet outputs as very few treatment facilities will receive them nowadays. They have been very keen to see some sort of evironmentally friendly, cost efective solutions for the sanitation). The events here are also very envirnomentally consciouss and one of the biggest environmental issues in the events is sanitation and its envirnomental footprint. So delivering new technologies would interest the events alot.

We have also considered the need for power and this has been one of the issues for us. It also has to be quite fast, so that the nutrients can be collected during the event duration (many times only one day). We have been doing some experiments with struvite but the issue is, that the raw materials needed to make it are quite costly and the Nitrogen still ends up remaining mostly in the discharge (and it is the N that has the most value for farmers in Finland so we really need to find a way to get that as well). We have also tought about different filtration methods for the N, but these seem to be too expensive. So if you come up with something new, I am more than interested and wish you all the luck in the world! Let me know how your project goes!
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  • NMORY
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Re: Membrane processing of urine into drinking water

Hi Karoliina,

The parameters you are describing make sense. We are aiming to get a one day conversion of over 80% recovery efficiency for N. We are only focusing on urine at the moment due mainly to a lack of funding, yet urine is the most challenging issue with outdoor events due to high volume and low value.

Our first prototype will be a bench scale model that will serve the residential market, but after some trialing we hope to scale it.
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  • NMORY
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Re: Urine collection, treatment and use from festivals

"Welcome to SuSanA discussion forum and thank you for your first post!
Could you please introduce yourself and explain the context and objectives of your research?"

I just saw this post today oups!

Hi all,

I am a full-time agrologist and "part-time researcher" but not affiliated with any university anymore as I managed to secure a space with some basic equipment and supplies and was looking for a more multidisciplinary team. The premise for my research is to develop a cost-effective, simple yet effective system to recover nutrients from urine in portable toilets onsite. Currently, my partner, a software engineer and myself are in the lab testing phase to optimise multiple parameters that we plan on automating and fine-tuning with the construction of the first prototype. So far, I've been able to remove the urea fraction in under 1 week.

At this stage, we have begun to reach out to a few portable toilet manufacturers and have received positive results. In the coming year, we plan on retrofitting a unit from a company named PolyJohn who has generously offered to send us one of their units for prototyping.

Please, if you have any questions or know of anyone interested in investing in mobile nutrient recovery. Contact me either through the forum or by email @ nmory[at]lasverduras.com.

CHeers!
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