Solar thermal evaporation of human urine for nitrogen and phosphorus recovery in Vietnam
A No Mix sanitation system was installed in a dormitory at the University of Can Tho in Vietnam, with the objective of recycling nutrients from source separated urine. This paper presents a pilot scale evaporation technology, and investigates the feasibility of recovering nitrogen and phosphorus from human urine by solar still for use as fertilizer. After 26 days of sun exposure, 360 g of solid fertilizer material was recovered from 50 L undiluted urine. This urine-derived fertilizer was mainly composed of sodium chloride, and had phosphorus and nitrogen contents of almost 2%. When tested with maize and ryegrass, the urine fertilizer led to biomass yields and phosphorus and nitrogen uptakes comparable to those induced by a commercial mineral fertilizer. Urine acidification with sulfuric or phosphoric acid prior treatment reduced nitrogen losses, improved the nutrient content of the generated fertilizers, and induced higher biomass yields and nitrogen and phosphorus uptakes than the commercial mineral fertilizer. However, acidification is not recommended in developing countries due to additional costs and handling risks. The fate of micropollutants and the possibility of separating sodium chloride from other beneficial nutrients require further investigation.