Wigginton is leading a Water Environment Research Foundation project in which the researchers are testing whether they can safely make fertilizer for food crops out of disinfected human urine.
In addition to reducing nutrients in water, recycling urine could streamline waste treatment. It could head off the emerging issue of pharmaceutical contamination, curb water use and even lessen the need to manufacture synthetic fertilizer.
“Currently, our agriculture and our wastewater treatment are open systems,” says Kim Nace, director of the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vt., a study participant. “It’s not a closed circle. But it could be. It could all go around and around in a complete cycle,” Nace told Michigan Engineering.
After the urine collection event, Kim Nace and Abe Noe-Hays of the Rich Earth Institute presented a seminar at U-M, which will be available online from MConneX.
The urine collection station was in the news on Michigan Radio.
Wigginton’s project is the focus of a Michigan Engineering piece called “Peecycling.” To read it, please visit http://umicheng.in/peecycling.