Student project: Simulation model to support sanitation planning game – nutrient recovery

We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic student to assist in developing a computer model that simulates the impacts of different technology choices for management of wastewater flows. The model will be incorporated into a serious game that we are developing to guide sanitation planners and decision-makers. The game is a multi-stakeholder, spatial planning game for municipal sanitation which focuses on resource recovery. It will allow for a visual representation of what technologies can be used and what resources can be recovered from sanitation facilities.

Project Motivation:The project “Gamification of Sanitation Planning” is investigating innovations in sanitation planning for increased nutrient-recovery. The project is exploring how new technologies and ways of planning can be brought in to improve the reuse of important fertilizing nutrients from wastewater. The project is premised on the facts that: (i) Managing the global sanitation crisis (2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation facilities) is one of the major challenges facing our generation, with significant impacts on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); (ii) Flows of nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) are a critical planetary boundary that needs to be properly managed to assure a sustainable future and one way is to recycle them from sanitation systems. Urine and faeces contain lots of N and P.

Consequently, there is pressing need for innovations in the sanitation sector that improve nutrient-recovery and provide sanitation services for all. There is a growing number of nutrient-recovery technologies available, but the majority are still in the formative phase of development and not widely applied. The aim of the game is to show the potential for resource-recovery in a visual way and get decision-makers to discuss it.

Student task:To develop a simple simulation model that can estimate and compare environmental and economic benefits/costs associated with different wastewater treatment technologies. The technologies chosen will be the same as the technologies available in the planning game. The aim is to provide information to decision-makers (the players of the game) regarding the environmental and economic impacts of different technology choices. Potentially, also organizational aspects will be included.

At the end of the planning game, players will have “built” a certain sequence of technologies, from the source of the wastewater (the household) to its final destination as nutrients and other resources (possible or not to recover for food production). The simulation model should be able to calculate approximate environmental impacts and costs associated with each chosen technology as well as the accumulated impacts/costs for the whole sequence. Key parameters to include in the model will be determined at the start of the project. 

Contact person: Jennifer McConville, Department of Energy and Technology, SLU
Tel: 018 672 168; Mobil: 076 783 7084

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