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.”
13.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Improving the understanding of death receptor functions in cells
07.11.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine
12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine