Urine concentration

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  • jrmcconville
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  • I have a background in environmental engineering and planning with a focus on sanitation and wastewater management. My research focuses on resource recovery using concepts of sustainability, life-cycle thinking, participation, serious gaming and decision-support frameworks to better understand and shape planning processes.
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Urine concentration

There are a number oftechnologies that are being tested at pilot scales for concentrating urine into fertilizer products. The concept of urine concentration is to remove the large volumes of water in urine to create a fertilizer product that has similar nutrient concentrations was commercial fertilizers. The advantage of urine concentration is that it makes transportation and storage of urine products easier as the volumes can be significantly reduced, as well as making it a more attractive fertilizer for agriculture use.

As many of these technologies are still developing, there can be many opportunities for learning and sharing experiences. By learning from each other we can increase knowledge diffusion, improve the technologies and hopefully increase the recovery of resources from urine.

Is there interest inthis community for building a network of actors working with urine concentration? I have started a LinkedIn group that can be a discussion and networking platform (Urine Concentration @ LinkedIn) – welcome to join!

We can also continuethe conversation on this Forum thread. Welcome to share your experience and knowledge related to urine concentration.
Dr. Jennifer McConville
Associate Professor

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Energy and Technology
Environmental Engineering
Box 7032, SE-750 07 UPPSALA
Telephone: +46 18-672 816
Mobile: +46 76 783 7084
Skype: jrmcconville
Blogg: blogg.slu.se/kretsloppsteknik/
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  • I have a background in environmental engineering and planning with a focus on sanitation and wastewater management. My research focuses on resource recovery using concepts of sustainability, life-cycle thinking, participation, serious gaming and decision-support frameworks to better understand and shape planning processes.
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Re: Urine concentration

You're all welcome to join the public defence of the Doctoral Thesis for  Prithvi Simha  , entitled “  Alkaline Urine Dehydration. How to dry source-separated human urine and recover nutrients  ?”, which will take place via Zoom.

When? Wednesday, 02 June 2021, at 13:00.
Join the Defence via Zoom:   https://slu-se.zoom.us/j/69422000884   with Passcode: 732271

The thesis is openly available at:   https://pub.epsilon.slu.se/23473/

External reviewer: Professor Nancy Love, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.
Examining committee: Professor Annelie Hedström, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden; Docent Sebastian Schwede, Mälardalen
University, Västerås, Sweden; and PhD Surendra Pradhan, University of
Eastern Finland, Kuopia, Finland

Supervisor: 
Professor Bjorn Vinneras, SLU
Assistant supervisors: Docent Cecilia Lalander, SLU and Docent Annika Nordin, SLU

Abstract
Human urine is a renewable resource from which water, nutrients and
energy can be recovered and safely recycled. This thesis presents a
novel on-site technology, called alkaline dehydration, for recovering
nutrients from source-separated urine.
To recover urea (the major nitrogenous compound in fresh urine) and
prevent its urease enzyme-catalysed hydrolysis to ammonia, fresh urine
was alkalised to pH ≥10 by anion exchange or use of alkaline substrates.
To reduce the volume and concentrate the nutrients, the alkalised urine
was dried in different substrates at temperatures of40-60 °C. To
evaluat ealkaline urine dehydration at pilot-scale, a prototype dryer
with capacity to treat 30 L urine d–1 was built and field-tested for
three months at a military camp in Finland.
More than 90% of the urine mass was reduced and dehydration rates of
upto 40 L urine d–1m–2 were obtained. Up to 98% of the nitrogen (N) and
100% of the phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in urine were recovered. A
dry solid containing 10% N, 1.5% P and 6.0% K, with similar salt and
heavy metal content to synthetic fertilisers available in Sweden was
produced.
At least 12.5 g Ca(OH)2 or 6.8 g MgO per litre of fresh urine was
required to buffer the pH of urine against absorption of CO2 during
dehydration. The energy demand for evaporating urine was similar to
that of incineration toilets, but could be reduced if heat energy from
the dryer’s exhaust air were recovered.
Overall, this thesis shows that a new sanitation system that safely
collects, treats, transports and applies urine as fertiliser could be
created
by integrating alkaline urine dehydration with existing infrastructure.
If implemented globally, this system could recycle 31 Tg N y–1 and 2.8Tg
P y–1, which would reduce the transgression of the planetary boundary
for N and P by 35% and 25%, respectively.
 
Keywords: Circular Bioeconomy, Fertiliser, Resource recovery, Safe Nutrient Recycling, Sanitation, Source separation, Urine diversion,
Wastewater treatment. 
Author’s address: Prithvi Simha, SLU, Department of Energy and Technology,
P.O. Box 7032, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden.
E-mail:  Prithvi.Simha@slu.se
Dr. Jennifer McConville
Associate Professor

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Energy and Technology
Environmental Engineering
Box 7032, SE-750 07 UPPSALA
Telephone: +46 18-672 816
Mobile: +46 76 783 7084
Skype: jrmcconville
Blogg: blogg.slu.se/kretsloppsteknik/
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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  • Jsenecal
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  • Bioresource engineer with PhD in Safe Nutrient Recovery from Human Urine – System and Hygiene Evaluation. Now working on the commercialization of the alkaline urine drying technology.
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Re: Urine concentration

Thanks for starting this Jennifer! To share some exciting news about urine concentration, we (at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science) have used dried urine in a seed driller. We stabilized and dried urine into a powder (7.2% nitrogen) and planted barley seeds with the dried urine directly.  The barley will be used to produce beer. This is part of a three year project in Sweden with the aim to customize the dried urine fertilizer for barley production.
_____________________________________
Jenna Senecal, PhD.
Environmental Engineering Grp.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research: blogg.slu.se/kretsloppsteknik/
Company: sanitation360.se
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Re: Urine concentration

Thanks for typos initiative. I'm interessed by the topic. 
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  • Heiner
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Re: Urine concentration

Hi Jenna,

just a short question. What kind of nitrogen (solubility) is in your dried fertilizer: urea, ammonium or nitrate? 
I grew barley myself and to receive a good quality (low protein content!) it was quite important to have a quick starter. If the plants get the nitrogen in a late phase we had too much protein and the brewery was not really keen for the barley.

Cheers,
Heiner
Heiner, the old farmer.....
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Re: Urine concentration

Hi Heiner, thanks for the question. Majority of the nitrogen is in the form of urea. But how soluble/accessible it is, I do not know at the moment. It is something that we will be analyzing in the coming months in preparation of next year's fertilizer batch. Curious, do you remember how much nitrogen you applied and how often? It was recommended to use 150 kg N/ha, but we have started 100 kg/ha.

Cheers,
Jenna 
_____________________________________
Jenna Senecal, PhD.
Environmental Engineering Grp.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research: blogg.slu.se/kretsloppsteknik/
Company: sanitation360.se
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Re: Urine concentration

Hi Jenna,

it all depends.......

but let's start to calculate: if you expect a harvest of 4 t per hectare and your barley has 12% total Protein then you will export 77 kg N/ ha (16% N in Protein). There is always a little loss (some is fixed to humus, some goes in the air, some in the groundwater. Depending on temperature an rainfall).
So 100 kg is enough, 150 kg by far too much!
But.... if the majority is in form of urea it becomes complicated. The temperature in the soil and the availability of water is essential to activity of the bacteria to transform urea to ammonia and ammonia to nitrate. And barley needs mainly nitrate. So this process takes time and the barley will lack nitrogen in the beginning and get a goof shot at the end.  UNluckywise this means a high content of Protein (12-13%??) what the breweries usually dislike very much. The maximum my  breweries accepted was 11%.
But perhaps in your case there are different standards. If I remember right (years back....) the main reason for the wanted low content of protein was the wanted long durability.
If you drink it very fast and itdoesn't become old, it might be fine.

So give it a go and drink as fast as you can! You swedish guys are known for this behavior anyway ;-) ;-) ;-)

skol! Heiner
Heiner, the old farmer.....
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Re: Urine concentration

Haha brilliant - thanks! I will double-check with our local brewer on project about what their acceptable protein range is. I guess we could add compost with the fertilizer at the beginning of the planting season to accelerate the conversion of urea to ammonia. Getting even more excited about sharing our results from the coming harvest (:

Skol!
Jenna 
_____________________________________
Jenna Senecal, PhD.
Environmental Engineering Grp.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research: blogg.slu.se/kretsloppsteknik/
Company: sanitation360.se
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Re: Urine concentration

Hi again,

The acceptable protein range from the brewer we're working with is 9,5-11,5%. So let's see how we fair!

Curious, do you (or anyone else) know of a place that can malt barley in small batches (10-30 kg)? The places I am connecting with work with 1-4 ton batches. We're not there yet.

Cheers,
Jenna 
_____________________________________
Jenna Senecal, PhD.
Environmental Engineering Grp.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research: blogg.slu.se/kretsloppsteknik/
Company: sanitation360.se
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  • Heiner
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  • Posts: 68
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Re: Urine concentration

You would send your barley to Germany then??
Because I can only ask here, I know nothing and nobody in sweden.....
But if you want, I know a guy here who should know everything about small scale testing laboratories.

Heiner 
Heiner, the old farmer.....
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Re: Urine concentration

Yes, willing to ship! Thanks for your connections (:
_____________________________________
Jenna Senecal, PhD.
Environmental Engineering Grp.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research: blogg.slu.se/kretsloppsteknik/
Company: sanitation360.se
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