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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2012 Feb 14;14(6):1978-84. doi: 10.1039/c2cp23402e. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Nutrient removal and energy production in a urine treatment process using magnesium ammonium phosphate precipitation and a microbial fuel cell technique.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei, 230026 China.


Urine pretreatment has attracted increasing interest as it is able to relieve the nitrogen and phosphorus overloading problems in municipal wastewater treatment plants. In this study, an integrated process, which combines magnesium ammonium phosphate (MAP) precipitation with a microbial fuel cell (MFC), is proposed for the recovery of a slow-release fertilizer and electricity from urine. In such a two-step process, both nitrogen and phosphorus are recovered through the MAP process, and organic matters in the urine are converted into electricity in the MFCs. With this integrated process, when the phosphorus recovery is maximized without a dose of PO(4)(3-)-P in the MAP precipitation process, removal efficiencies for PO(4)(3)-P and NH(4)(+)-N of 94.6% and 28.6%, respectively, were achieved with a chemical oxygen demand (COD) of 64.9% accompanied by a power output of 2.6 W m(-3). Whereas removal efficiencies for PO(4)(3)-P and NH(4)(+)-N of 42.6% and 40%, respectively, and a COD of 62.4% and power density of 0.9 W m(-3) were obtained if simultaneous recovery of phosphorus and nitrogen was required through dosing with 620 mg L(-1) of PO(4)(3-)-P in the MAP process. This work provides a new sustainable approach for the efficient and cost-effective treatment of urine with the recovery of energy and resources.

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