Urine Diversion - Liquid Gold!
Urine Diverting Toilets a new way to recycle...
Look for this sign on restrooms and portapotties! It marks the capture of urine for local use on farms. That's the vision of the Rich Earth Institute (REI) of Brattleboro, VT. Abe Noe-Hays, the Institute's Research Director, spoke at the Vermont Biosolids Forum on November 5th. The Rich Earth Institute is investigating the benefits of a modern recycling system utilizing human urine as fertilizer.
According to the Institute's website, "Every year, Americans produce about 30 billion gallons of urine, which is equivalent to about 8.6 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizer. Using conventional farming methods, this is enough to grow about 400 pounds of corn per person—divided over the whole year, that is enough corn to supply about 1,800 calories per day." This means that we produce enough fertilizer (as urine) to feed ourselves. How elegant!
The website goes on to state, "Using specially designed toilets that collect urine separately from feces, urine can be collected in a storage tank instead of being flushed down the drain. After being sanitized, it can be used as a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer, taking the place of chemical fertilizers."
Last year, REI collected urine from several Brattleboro residents to perform a recycling trial. In 2013, that program expanded to pilot scale, with more than 150 families participating through use of installed urine-diversion toilets. The Institute has been testing two simple treatment systems to reduce pathogens (which are already at low levels in the urine of healthy people), and they have conducted small-scale urine fertilizer trials on area hay crops. REI has been awarded a research grant from the U. S. EPA and is awaiting funding authorization. So if you are in southeastern Vermont and see a urine diverting toilet (look for the "American Gothic Restroom" sign), do your part for this research and leave a donation.