Urine as fertilizer

Assistant Professor Krista Wigginton’s research on urine recycling is the topic of a new video from Michigan Engineering.

The "flush and forget" toilet system, which has barely changed in the past century, demands tremendous amounts of water, energy and money. Despite that, it doesn't return water to the ecosystem in the same condition it started. The "effluent" that treatment plants discharge is still studded with pollutants like chemicals from our shampoos and shaving cream, pharmaceuticals and their byproducts, and extra nutrients from the food we eat.

"I think we can do better," says Wigginton. She is leading a Water Environment Research Foundation project that takes a bold approach that could help curtail a host of the unintended consequences of how we handle human waste.

Wigginton and a team of researchers are testing whether they can safely make fertilizer for food crops out of disinfected human urine.

In addition to reducing nutrients in water, recycling urine could streamline waste treatment. It could head off the emerging issue of pharmaceutical contamination, curb water use and even lessen the need to manufacture synthetic fertilizer.

To learn more about this research, please visit http://umicheng.in/peecycling.

To watch the video about this project, please click in the box below or visit YouTube.

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