Day trippers in the Blaarmeersen recreation area in Belgium pee a lot on a summer’s day. But when they do that in the innovative toilet ‘The Place To Pee‘, it doesn’t just go to waste. Thanks to innovative technology, the urine is processed into disinfecting rinse water and fertilizer for agriculture.
The innovative technology that lures visitors’ urine to ‘The Place To Pee’ originated from the aerospace industry.
“Letting urine wash away is a waste after all,” explains Pieter Naert, manager of the Ghent University spin-off Hydrohm. “Urine contains valuable substances that, however, also strain water treatment systems. What’s more, flushing toilets also uses up a lot of water.”
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This is the reason why Hydrohm came up with the innovative Uridis technology. Via this purification technology, phosphorus and nitrogen are extracted from urine. These are used again as fertilizers in agriculture. Plus, disinfectant rinse water is produced from urine using green electricity.
A small but significant contribution
The innovative technology has plenty of advantages. It saves water, the toilet is more hygienic, wastewater is cleaner and you can extract valuable substances. In order to separate the urine, Hydrohm enlisted the help of the international company Laufen.
“Extraction of phosphorus and industrial production of nitrogen for use as fertilizer in agriculture take a heavy toll on the environment. This is why we developed the innovative source separation technology. The separate collection of urine enables it to be processed efficiently, with a much lower impact on the environment. The toilet still looks the same to visitors, but their small contribution makes a significant difference to agriculture and biodiversity in rivers and oceans,” says Stephanie Voets, project manager at Laufen.
The demonstration project in the Blaarmeersen fits in with Ghent’s ambition to be a frontrunner in cleantech and circular economy, the municipality stated in a press release. Ghent wants to further support cleantech, biotech, healthtech and digitech in their growth. To this end, the Ghent city council has set up a spearhead fund of 4.9 million euros. The fund serves as a way to leverage the Ghent economy and to bring supra-local innovation resources, both public and private, into Ghent.
“This is how we make a difference going forward and strengthen our ambition to become a Technology Capital in Europe,” said city councillor for the economy Sofie Bracke.
‘The Place To Pee’ demonstration project is a collaboration between Hydrohm, Laufen, Ghent University, ESA, MELiSSA, CAPTURE, Spraying Systems Co., Verhaert, TECE, COSMIC, Farys and the City of Ghent. Learn more about this circular toilet at www.stad.gent/theplacetopee.
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