Optimization of resource and water recovery from urine

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study deals with the feasibility and practicality to recover water and nutrients from fresh urine by means of evaporation/condensation. The evaporation process generated two distinct fractions: a condensate and a concentrate. The optimal percentage of evaporation (in volume) was found to be 80%, resulting in optimal condensate quality. Higher percentages of evaporation resulted in a deterioration of water quality, as urea decomposed into ammonia, followed by volatilization of the ammonia which ended up in the condensate. Following evaporation, struvite was recovered from the concentrate at an optimal Mg/N ratio of 1/1. The condensate was purified by filtration into two layers of soil and sand, followed by zeolites. Complete removal of N-NH3 and 91% removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD) could be achieved throughout this process. Finally, the condensate was disinfected by sodium hypochlorite, achieving over 6-log inactivation of MS2 bacteriophage at a dose of 1,200 mg min/L. In conclusion, this study shows that there exist some potential benefits to the production of high-quality water and fertilizer from urine. The value of struvite recovered from the concentrate was found to be equivalent to that of the water from the condensate, showing that both streams deserve equal attention.

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