Dutch Dyke Building Spills Over Into Toilet Design

October 20, 2007 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

The Dutch have a way with water. That’s not just nice alliteration, but unsalted truth. Their dyke building is taking an unexpected twist; in a drive to save the environment. The Dutch have manufactured toilets to separate urine from the sewage system.

It doesn’t take a genius to spot the logic. General water drainage systems contain less than 1 percent of urine, yet the fluid itself contains half of all phosphates and 80 percent of the ammonium in the wastewater. Dutch Professor Mark van Loosdrecht says there are more advantages to recycling urine than making the water cleansing process easier and saving energy.

Because the phosphates in the urine can be directly sent to the artificial fertilizer industry, says Professor Mark van Loosdrecht. In the Netherlands, there are no links between this industry and the water businesses. But if phosphates were precipitated from pure urine, this could become a lucrative side business for the water industry. Wastewater plants could be producers of energy, rather than running up high energy bills as industrial users.

Ammonium from separate urine reservoirs can be directly processed into nitrogen gas by the anammox bacteria. This cuts out the cumbersome methanol and oxygen additions. The anammox bacteria is only active however when a fluid has a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius or higher.

“If only 50 percent of the urine is separated, the effect is already optimal,” says Van Loosdrecht. To separate urine from the sewage system, new toilets are installed. These look like normal toilets. Yet on the inside there is a ridge which separates the waste. The new toilets catch the urine in as undiluted a way as possible, while the solids happily float other directions.

Entry filed under: Green News.

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