Australian Centre for Water
and Environmental Biotechnology

Project Dates: 2015 to 2019


Nutrient loads on existing treatment plants are on the rise, while regulatory bodies impose ever more stringent discharge limits to safeguard waterways and fisheries. This results in higher costs for plant operators, inevitably leading to larger water bills for users. To combat ever-increasing loads, the removal and recovery of nutrients at decentralised level has been considered for many years, however none of the proposed solutions so far have reached implementation due to technical or economic hurdles. In this project, we introduce a novel technology based on bioelectro-concentration of nutrients from source-separated urine. The system captures nitrogen and other nutrients into two product streams: (1) easily-recoverable ammonium bicarbonate salt and (2) a concentrated liquid with approximately 3% nitrogen and 0.5% phosphorus, both of which can find reuse avenues as a fertiliser. The technology is power and chemical free, thus suitable for decentralised installations at large office and residential buildings, airports, etc. To date, nitrogen recovery rates of greater than have been achieved. A pilot plant will be commissioned in early 2017 at the Queensland Urban Utilities Innovation Centre at the Luggage Point wastewater treatment plant.