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Nitrogen and Phosphorus Recovery from Human Urine by Struvite Precipitation and Air Stripping in Vietnam



A “No Mix” sanitation system was installed in a dormitory at the University of CanTho in South Vietnam, with the objective of recycling nutrients from source separated wastewater streams. This paper presents the “Yellow Water” treatment plant and its efficiency in recovering phosphorus and nitrogen from human urine. The pilot plant achieved phosphorus removal efficiencies of 98% with both diluted and undiluted urine. Phosphorus was recovered in the form of struvite, a solid mineral fertilizer with heavy metal concentrations being below the German Fertilizer Regulation's threshold limits. About 110 g of struvite could be generated after one treatment cycle, during which 50 L of urine were processed. Nitrogen removal by air stripping showed best results when circulating the urine for 3 h through the stripping column at a high flow rate (80 L/h). With these settings, more than 90% of the nitrogen could be removed from the urine, and virtually 100% of this nitrogen could be recovered in the form of liquid ammonium sulfate. In the future, treatment costs could be further reduced by making use of the solar energy that is available during daytime in South Vietnam.