Nitrogen and Phosphorus Harvesting from Human Urine Using a Stripping, Absorption, and Precipitation Process

Environ Sci Technol. 2017 May 2;51(9):5165-5171. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b05402. Epub 2017 Apr 21.


Human urine contains significant amounts of N (nitrogen) and P (phosphorus); therefore it has been successfully used as fertilizer in different crops. But the use of urine as fertilizer has several constraints, such as, the high cost of transportation, an unpleasant smell, the risk of pathogens, and pharmaceutical residue. A combined and improved N stripping and P precipitation technique is used in this study. In this technique, Ca(OH)2 is used to increase the pH of urine which converts ammonium into ammonia gas and precipitate P as Ca-P compound. The ammonia gas is stripped and passed into the sulfuric acid where ammonium sulfate and hydrogen triammonium disulfate is formed. The experiment was performed using 700 mL of urine and the pH of the urine was increased above 12. Our results showed that 85-99% of N and 99% of P (w/w) can be harvested from urine in 28 h at 40 °C and in 32 h at 30 °C. The harvested N (13% N w/w) and P (1.5% P w/w) can be used as mineral fertilizer. The economic assessment of the technique showed that the extraction of N and P from 1 m3 of pure urine can make a profit of €2.25.

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / chemistry
  • Ammonium Compounds
  • Fertilizers
  • Humans
  • Nitrogen*
  • Phosphorus*
  • Urine / chemistry


  • Ammonium Compounds
  • Fertilizers
  • Phosphorus
  • Ammonia
  • Nitrogen