Algae to upcycle nutrients from concentrated urine and UASB-digested wastewater

In domestic wastewater, about 75% of total nitrogen and 50% of total phosphorus originates from human urine. In source separated sanitation concepts, the major wastewater streams can be divided into black water (from toilets), and grey water (from others activities in the house-hold).


An upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) can be used for on-site treatment of black water and allows a high amount of total COD to be converted into the energy carrier methane. However, in the effluent from this process, high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus are still present and needed to be removed or recovered.

Technical challenge

New concept for treatment of urine and UASB-digested wastewater

By separating urine from black water, the urine can be treated separately, which offers the possibility to recovery nitrogen and phosphorus. By using algae to treat urine, and as well as UASB-digested wastewater, nitrogen, phos-phorus, and other micro-nutrients can be removed from the waste stream and at the same time the harvested algal biomass can be used as a fertilizer. This research aims at determining the appropriate technology to treat and to recycle nutrients from concentrated human urine and UASB-digested wastewater with algae. Technical challenges are to optimize the algal culture in concentrated urine and to apply a algal photobioreactor with the UASB reactor for on-site treatment. 

CV Researcher

Name: Kanjana Tuantet

Supervisors: Dr.Ir.Grietje Zeeman, Dr.Ir.Marcel Janssen, and Dr.Ir.Hardy Temmink

Promoter: Prof.Dr.Ir.Cees Buisman and Prof.Dr.Ir.René Wijffels

Graduated: MSc in Environmental Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and MSc in Environmental Sciences, Wageningen UR, The Netherlands.