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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Alkaline dehydration of source -separated fresh human urine: Preliminary insights into using different dehydration temperature and media

Simha, Prithvi; Lalander, Cecilia; Nordin, Annika; Vinneras, Bjorn

Abstract

For sanitation systems aiming at recycling nutrients, separately collecting urine at source is desirable as urine contains most of the nutrients in wastewater. However, reducing the volume of the collected urine and recovering majority of its nutrients is necessary, as this improves the transportability and the end-application of urine-based fertilisers. In this study, we present an innovative method, alkaline dehydration, for treating fresh human urine into a nutrient-rich dry solid. Our aim was to investigate whether fresh urine (pH<7) added to five different alkaline media (pH>11) could be dehydrated at elevated temperatures (50 and 60 °C) with minimal loss of urea, urine's principal nitrogen compound. We found that it was possible to concentrate urine 48 times, yielding dry end-products with high fertiliser value: approximately, 10% N, 1% P, and 4% K. We monitored the physico-chemical properties and the composition of various dehydration media to provide useful insights into their suitability for dehydrating urine. We demonstrated that it is possible to recover >90% nitrogen when treating fresh urine by alkaline dehydration by inhibiting the enzymatic hydrolysis of urea at elevated pH and minimisingthe chemical hydrolysis of urea with high urine dehydration rates.

Keywords

Bioeconomy; Fertiliser; Nutrient recovery; Resource-oriented sanitation; Urine dehydration; Wastewater treatment

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2020, Volume: 733, article number: 139313
Publisher: ELSEVIER