Save the World by Going to the Bathroom!

Votes: 22
Views: 379

Every household is generating a valuable resource. Unfortunately this resource is considered as waste, which is costly to manage and even after treatment still leads to environmental problems. The waste I am talking about is urine. Yes, just going to pee is contributing to algae blooms and is suffocating aquatic organisms (i.e. fish).

At Sanitation 360, we’ve created a unique technology that converts urine into a dry-fertilizer. Our technology would enable communities to produce a clean and safe fertilizer while reducing environmental pollution. This circular approach to managing urine would protect marine life while increase the capacity of wastewater treatment plants. We have >20 years of research at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and have piloted the technology in Sweden, Finland and France.

The challenge is that only 7% of the world’s wastewater receives advanced wastewater treatment. Effluent from treatment plants still release a lot of nitrogen and phosphorous, which ends up in water recipients like the Baltic Sea, creating dead zones in aquatic ecosystems and contributing to climate change. The global negligence regarding human excreta management is odd, as they contain the same plant nutrients as the fertilizers used to grow the food we consume. We readily use animal manure, so why not human excreta?

Urine, rather than feces, contains the majority of the plant nutrients excreted. The main limitation with using urine as a fertilizer is that it is mostly water (97%), meaning that its concentration of plant nutrients is low. The lower nutrient concentrations require larger quantities of urine to be applied per hectare as fertilizer, which creates logistical problems in terms of storage and increases the costs of transportation and application. Our technology overcomes these issues by transforming urine into a dry fertilizer, having the same composition as that of commercial fertilizers. The system plugs into a urine-diverting toilet inside the bathroom and there is no need for changing any piping in the building. The mass of the urine-based fertilizer to be collected is >7% of the solid municipal waste a household generates on a daily bases and is already collected with a door-to-door service.

By converting the urine into dry fertilizer, we mitigate environmental pollution, reduces freshwater consumption, improves society’s nutrient resiliency as well as the sustainability of food, water, and sanitation systems. Helping the environment and your community can’t get easier than this, going to the bathroom with Sanitation 360.

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  • ABOUT THE ENTRANT

  • Name:
    Jenna Senecal
  • Type of entry:
    team
    Team members:
    Dr. Björn Vinnerås
    Prithvi Simha
  • Profession:
    Engineer/Designer
  • Jenna is inspired by:
    We are living beyond the safe operating safe of the planet, which is threatening the stability of our earth. The pollution released just from us going to the bathroom is causing the spread of disease and triggering eutrophication, hypoxia and climate change . My goal in life is to develop a circular economy that safely recycles plant nutrients from human excreta back to agricultural fields to reduce the current dependence on fertilizers derived from non-renewable resources, while improving crop yields and protecting marine ecosystems.
  • Software used for this entry:
    PHREEQC
  • Patent status:
    none