SaNiPhos: phosphorus and nitrogen from urine

SaNiPhos: phosphorus and nitrogen from urine

Struvite and ammonium sulphate recovery from urine

GMB BioEnergie has developed Europe’s first urine processing factory: SaNiPhos. The company has developed a technology to recover phosphorus and nitrogen from urine. Phosphorus is bound with magnesium, which yields struvite. Nitrogen is processed into ammonium sulphate. With this innovative technology not only scarce resources are recovered, but it is also a great step for the optimisation of the water value chain. By separately collecting and processing urine, wastewater treatment plants are considerably less loaded.

The SaNiPhos installation of GMB can process 5,000 m3 of urine per year, which is equivalent to more than 13 million toilet visits. The installation processes urine of the pharmaceutical industrie, sport events, music concerts and other sanitary projects.

SaNiPhos is Europe’s first full-scale urine processing installation with which nitrogen and phosphorus is recovered. The installation is in operation since 2010 and signifies an efficient and source separated treatment of urine originating from household wastewater and large-scale festivals. It produces valuable and scarce nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen that can be re-used as fertilizers. The system can also be used for the recovery of nutrients from industrial wastewater.

Furthermore, pharmaceutical company MSD is a partner of SaNiPhos. With the ‘Moeders voor Moeders’ (mothers for mothers) programme, leftover urine has been delivered to GMB as a pilot after recovery of the hCG hormone to develop fertility medicines. This pilot has now been followed up by collecting the leftover urine and processing it by SaNiPhos. Instead of discharging it into the sewer system, in which it is strongly diluted, the urine is used for recovery of phosphorus and nitrogen (the hormones have been removed by MSD in advance). Also a pilot is executed with Pentair and other organisations to remove medicinal waste from the urine with the help of dedicated membranes.


Fragment of documentary: Die Phosphor Krise – Das Ende der Menschheit

Martin Wilschut
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