Academic research in the field of nutrient recycling is essential for the future. In collaboration with several scientists we are striving to make progress on the technical side of Anthroponix. Below you find our research we are initiating and published papers by the researchers attached to the Anthroponix network. With our research, we aim to develop the knowledge of human waste recycling, and develop new techniques of using our waste in a regenerative way.

Lactic acid fermentation of human urine to improve its fertilizing value and reduce odour emissions

During storage of urine, urea is biologically decomposed to ammonia, which can be lost through volatilization and in turn causes significant unpleasant smell. In response, lactic acid fermentation of urine is a cost-effective technique to decrease nitrogen volatilization and reduce odour emissions. Fresh urine was lacto-fermented for 36 days in closed glass jars with a lactic acid bacterial inoculum from sauerkraut juice and compared to untreated, stored urine. In the lactofermented urine, the pH was reduced to 3.8 and the ammonium content by 30%, while the pH of the untreated urine rose to 6.1 and its ammonium content increased by 32% due to urea hydrolysis. The concentration of lactic acid bacteria in lacto-fermented urine was 7.3 CFU ml, suggesting that urine is a suitable growth medium for lactic acid bacteria. The odour of the stored urine was subjectively perceived by four people to be twice as strong as that of lacto-fermented samples. Lacto-fermented urine induced increased radish germination compared to stored urine.

Read the full paper by Dr. N. Andreev and co-written by team member Markus Wernli


Nutrients availability and drug related hormones analysis of fermented and unfermented human urine

It is well known that human urine contains significant quantities of the main macronutrients required by plants; nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Nevertheless, the unpleasing smell and the risk of contamination with pathogens and drug-related hormones are widespread concerns. It is not known exactly what the effect will be of fermentation with Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) on macro- and micronutrient content in fermented compared with unfermented urine. In addition, humans are constantly exposed to environmental pollution and to the use of drug related hormones. Both factors arise great concern when growing plants nurtured by human urine. Together with Waterschap de Dommel, institute for (waste)water management, we are initiating research on how fermenting urine with the help of lactic acid bacteria could be of benefit for processing the materials and nutrients of this material. The fermentation may aid in the processing and neutralizing of harmful substances in urine. This research will feature an in-depth nutrient analysis of the differences between fermented and unfermented urine, and will take a sample from different test subjects, medicated and unmedicated. The further goal of this research is to see if we can use this technique on a bigger scale to recycle and reuse our ‘waste’ materials in a safer way.

More about our ongoing research on analyzing urine and plants will be online soon…