Techno-economic feasibility of recovering phosphorus, nitrogen and water from dilute human urine via forward osmosis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Water Research, 2019, 150 pp. 47 - 55
Issue Date:
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Due to high phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) content, human urine has often proven to suitable raw material for fertiliser production. However, most of the urine diverting toilets or male urinals dilute the urine 2 to 10 times. This decreases the efficiency in the precipitation of P and stripping of N. In this work, a commercial fertiliser blend was used as forward osmosis (FO) draw solution (DS) to concentrate real diluted urine. During the concentration, the urea in the urine is recovered as it diffuses to the fertiliser. Additionally, the combination of concentrate PO43-, reverse Mg2+ flux from the DS and the Mg2+ presents in the flushing water, was able to recover the PO43- as struvite. With 50% concentrated urine, 93% P recovery was achieved without the addition of an external Mg2+. Concurrently, 50% of the N was recovered in the diluted fertiliser DS. An economic analysis was performed to understand the feasibility of this process. It was found that the revenue from the produced fertilisers could potentially offset the operational and capital costs of the system. Additionally, if the reduction in the downstream nutrients load is accounted for, the total revenue of the process would be over 5.3 times of the associated costs.
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