Urine Treatment

With the inevitability of future resource restrictions and to ensure or food security, big changes will have to happen for domestic and municipal wastewater treatment systems. Nitrogen and Phosphorus are key resources that mankind needs to manage better from now on, they are freely available for recycling from human excrement. 

Why urine recycling matters

  • Half of the global population depend on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to grow food crops 
  • The remaining global reserves of natural gas and coal to make synthetic nitrogen fertiliser will eventually become expensive and diminish.  
  • There are urgent calls from the International Panel on Climate Change to keep within the carbon budget end the use of fossil fuels over the next decade 
  • There are calls from the EU to begin the recycling phosphorus from wastewater and organic waste streams 
  • Septic Tanks are so wasteful of nitrogen and phosphorus, we must end nutrient pollution that causes algal blooms and surface water pollution.  
  • The global food system emits so much greenhouse gases, we will need to make compost from human excrement to grow vegetable crops more locally or in gardens. 
  • With unsustainable farming and climate change the world is rapidly losing its top-soil. This flower growing method will make compost to make your own home garden more fertile.

For single house wastewater systems, a paradigm shift must occur with the separate treatment of human urine and the use of toilet composting systems. To avoid pharmaceutical pollution in surface waters and to end the wasting of phosphorus and nitrogen from septic tanks, the growing of non-food plants such as flowers will eventually be regarded as the most economic, and ecologically effective method. Almost half of the food we eat around the world is grown with synthetic nitrogen fertiliser that is made using natural gas and coal. Map of synthetic nitrogen. We therefore should not be so wasteful of nitrogen from septic tanks. Human urine contains about 70% of the nitrogen in wastewater. We must start now to direct human urine to grow flowers. We must compost the flowers afterwards and return the compost to our gardens.

The present system where all domestic wastewater is first passed through a septic tank is very wasteful of important nutrients which are vital as fertilizer within the global food supply chain, and will eventually have to end.  Low cost mineral-based phosphorus and synthetic nitrogen will be in short supply as the resources to make synthetic fertilisers become restricted or depleted in future, on the global market. 

Instead we must recover and recycle Nitrates and Phosphates. Single houses in future will be encouraged to consider the use of composting toilets and urine hydroponic systems. The diagram below shows how this can be done while continuing to have hygienic and odourless toilets. 

Outdoor plants will thrive in the summer sun but can die back with cold outside winter temperatures. Flowers in glazed rooms however, that enjoy indoor warm house temperatures and artificial light in the evenings can continue to grow throughout the full year. 

The flower growing system shown below is in an attached greenhouse. The hydroponic growing of flowers and plants using separated human urine is happening without odours. The flowers are forced to bio absorb any pharmaceuticals, phosphorus, and nitrogen in the urine. The photograph taken in September shows a vertical flower wall that bio accumulates the nutrients in urine. 

Herr Phosphorus Recycling Reactor

The “Herr Phosphorus Recycling Reactor” is a novel and innovative system designed to treat and recycle phosphorus from domestic wastewater. Unlike traditional methods, that sends everything through septic tanks, this home-based or small community-based system produces phosphorus from separated urine that, is free from toxic metals or pharmaceuticals, making it a safer and more sustainable fertilizer option.

The process involves adding and mixing salt with separated human urine to prevent phosphorus pollution in domestic wastewater. By doing so, the system recovers and recycles the phosphorus in a much safer way than from sewage sludge The system converts urine into struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate). The struvite produced from urine has been proven to be a safe-to-use, slow-release fertilizer, with as much as 90% of the phosphorus removed by this method.

The benefits of this approach are significant. By recovering phosphorus, we can reduce our dependence on mining and extraction of phosphorus rock to produce fertilizers, which is essential to feed the growing global population. Scientists are warning of a looming fertiliser shortage, and the latest emerging concern predicts that mineral-based phosphorus fertilizers will become unaffordable over the coming 30 years or so.

Given these challenges, it is crucial that we take action now. The “Herr Phosphorus Recycling Reactor” offers a practical solution to end the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater from towns and urban centres. By recycling non-toxic phosphorus, we can contribute to a more sustainable and prosperous future.

Don’t wait to make a difference. Contact us today to learn more about the “Herr Phosphorus Recycling Reactor” and how it can benefit you and your community.

Recycling phosphorus as struvite with salt
Herr Ltd Struvite reactor with filter bag, collection cylinder and final dry struvite