Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Urine source separation: Award for broad-based engagement

28.11.2008
Eawag’s strategy of bridging between cutting-edge research and practice has not gone unnoticed: the 2008 Award for Transdisciplinary Research – carrying a prize of CHF 75,000 – has been won by the Novaquatis urine source separation project.

The award is made under the aegis of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences “td-net for Transdisciplinary Research”, in recognition of the project managers’ commitment to transdisciplinarity: as well as integrating environmental, engineering and social scientific research, they sought the cooperation of non-academic partners at an early stage.

The basic idea is simple: urine accounts for only 1% of the total volume of wastewater, but it contains up to 80% of all the nutrients. If it is processed separately, wastewater treatment plants can be reduced in size, water protection can be improved, and nutrients can be recycled. Separate treatment of wastewater streams thus opens up new possibilities, and there are many reasons for adopting urine source separation (“NoMix”) technology on a large scale. This applies in particular to emerging countries such as China, where sewerage and wastewater treatment facilities cannot keep up with the rapid pace of urbanization, and water pollution arising from domestic wastewater has reached devastating levels.

While the Eawag researchers’ approach may sound straightforward, there is no guarantee that it can be implemented in practice: infrastructure that is already in place cannot be transformed overnight; the new toilets still have some defects – pipes may be blocked by urine scale; the sanitary industry as yet sees little commercial potential in the NoMix technology, and the fertilizer produced from urine cannot yet compete with low-cost artificial products. So obstacles remain to be overcome. The prize money from the award is therefore to be used to support further research: if urine is to be treated with the aid of decentralized systems, and nutrients are to recovered in a concentrated form for recycling, what options offer the best prospects of implementation and the lowest environmental impact? For Tove Larsen, who received the award, together with Judit Lienert, at the 2008 Transdisciplinary Conference in Zurich, it is quite clear: “It’s standard practice for garden waste to be separately collected. So surely it should also be possible one day for the six kilograms of concentrated phosphorus produced each year by a family of four to be separately processed.”

Once again, the research will involve a transdisciplinary process. According to co-project manager Judit Lienert, this is one of the pillars on which Eawag’s work has always rested: “Problems can only be solved with the involvement of all stakeholders. That includes authorities, engineering consultants, and industrial partners, as well as consumers.”

Andri Bryner | alfa
Further information:
http://www.transdisciplinarity.ch/Award_e.html
http://www.eawag.ch/media/20070307/pressebilder
http://www.eawag.ch/media/20070307

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Otto Hahn Medal for Jaime Agudo-Canalejo
21.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kolloid- und Grenzflächenforschung

nachricht Call for nominations of outstanding catalysis researchers for the Otto Roelen Medal 2018
20.06.2017 | DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V.

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora

27.06.2017 | Earth Sciences

New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins

27.06.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>