Resources recovery from high-strength human waste anaerobic digestate using simple nitrification and denitrification filters.
Simple trickling nitrification filters and submerged denitrification filters were developed to provide post-treatment to high-strength human waste anaerobic digestate with the aims to (i) effectively recover nutrients in a useful form as a fertilizer and to (ii) treat digestate such that it could be reused as flush water in water scarce regions. The tested filter media (biochar, granular activated carbon, rice and coconut husks, bamboo chips, sunflower seeds, and zeolite) are low cost and sustainable materials and can be locally sourced where on-site sanitation facilities are in high demand. Experimental data from laboratory operation with digestate from anaerobic digestion of dog feces and human urine revealed that the filters achieved a combined removal of chemical oxygen demand (COD), total nitrogen (TN), and phosphorus (PO4-P) up to 84%, 69%, and 89%, respectively. Post-treatment filters have also demonstrated successful recovery of vital nutrients by precipitating ammonium magnesium phosphate hydrate, a documented valuable slow-release solid fertilizer. These filters have a great potential for advancing access to improved sanitation while simultaneously increasing capacity for small-scale economic agricultural development in geographic regions lacking improved sanitation.
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