We are looking for highly motivated students from various backgrounds, including water/environmental engineering, chemistry, biology, and systems analysis. When you do your thesis/internship with us, you will join an internationally renowned research group that has several ongoing EU and Swedish projects on circular sanitation systems.
Most of the nutrients we consume in food are passed in our urine, but instead of being recaptured, these nutrients are flushed, diluted, and sent to wastewater treatment plants where they’re scrubbed out. At SLU, we’ve discovered how to recycle this urine into valuable and sustainable farmland fertilizer. We’ve developed a technology which can separately collect and evaporate human urine, transforming it into a solid fertilizer. We’ve even managed to engineer it so it can either fit below a toilet or be placed in the basement of a building so that urine collected in multiple toilets is processed centrally.
Many experts believe that such technology could kickstart a new revolution in how we manage wastewater. If implemented worldwide, recycled urine could replace a quarter of all the synthetic nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers used in agriculture.
Would you like to contribute to developing or analysing this technology? In the lab or in implementation projects?
For example, on the Island of Gotland where dried urine fertiliser is being used to grow Barley destined for producing beer – a project recently featured by Nature magazine (”the urine revolution: how recycling pee could help to save the world”).
Possible projects include technical ones like:
a) designing a urine dehydrator for different settings (urban, rural, or remote like national parks; high- or low-income countries);
b) optimizing process parameters – (e.g. reduce energy demand to evaporate urine);
c) urine chemistry – develop techniques to inactivate enzymes, precipitate minerals, and recover nutrients;
d) pilot-test the technology in various settings;
e) field-test dehydrated urine as a fertilizer on Gotland to grow barley;
f) analyse the environmental performance of our urine evaporators piloted in various EU Horizon projects.
Possibilities also include systems analysis and socio-technical focused projects, such as:
a) identifying drivers and barriers to the adoption of new sanitation technologies like urine drying;
b) modeling system dynamics, a computational technique where factors and dynamics are reflected by mathematical equations, to simulate the behavior of wastewater treatment systems over time;
c) using a number of different methodologies to analyse of the urine socio-technical system; e.g. using Multi-Level Perspective, Technology Innovation Systems (TIS) and institutional analysis.
Here, possibilities include analysis of projects and data collected in Sweden, but also at our partner countries where we have long-term collaboration like Bolivia, South Africa, Jordan, and China.