Sustainable Nutrient Recycling

The current approach to nutrient management, a linear economy model, is inefficient, unsustainable, and environmentally deleterious. Nitrogen is fixed from the atmosphere and phosphorus is mined at considerable costs; then energy and chemicals are further consumed for nutrient removal in wastewater effluent to prevent environmental and public health problems. We are developing novel decentralized technologies for cost-effective and high-yield recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus from source-separated urine, a nutrient-rich and practically-sterile stream. The new paradigm will enable the transformation to a more sustainable circular economy model, as illustrated below.

Read our study published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, which discusses a novel technique, isothermal membrane distillation with acidic collector, for the selective and energy-efficiency recovery of NH3 from human urine. Current work strives to advance sustainable technologies for P recovery from anthropogenic waste streams.