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Research article2013Peer reviewed

The potential for self-sanitisation of faecal sludge by intrinsic ammonia

Fidjeland, Jörgen; Magri, Maria Elisa; Magri, Maria; Jönsson, Håkan; Albihn, Ann; Vinnerås, Björn


Faecal sludge has the potential to be used as a sustainable fertiliser in agriculture, but the sludge must be sanitised due to its content of pathogenic microorganisms. The intrinsic ammonia from the urine may be sufficient for sanitisation of the sludge if it is not too diluted by flush water or lost by ventilation. To evaluate the potential for this sanitisation method, inactivation of Enterococcus faecalis, Salmonella typhimurium and Ascaris suum eggs during treatment were assessed. The inactivation was studied at different storage temperatures (10-28 degrees C) and in several sludge mixes with different contents of urine, faeces and flush water, and with ammonia concentrations from 40 to 400 mM. All pathogens were inactivated by the ammonia, and ascaris eggs were the most persistent. Lower flush water volume and higher urine content favoured inactivation, mainly due to increased uncharged ammonia (NH3) concentration. The lag phase in ascaris inactivation was shortened by increasing temperature and NH3 concentration, while post-lag phase inactivation was not influenced by NH3 concentration. Faecal sludge can be sanitised by airtight storage without the use of additives when flush water volumes are sufficiently low. For temperatures of 23-28 degrees C, a 3 log reduction of ascaris egg viability can be achieved within 1-6 months depending on ammonia concentration and temperature. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Ammonia sanitisation; Ascaris; Bacteria; Faecal sludge; Helminth eggs; Inactivation; Toilet

Published in

Water Research
2013, Volume: 47, number: 16, pages: 6014-6023