Knowledge evolution within human urine recycling technological innovation system (TIS): Focus on technologies for recovering plant-essential nutrients


”Knowledge development and diffusion” is a key function in developing technological innovation systems (TIS), especially early in the formative phase. If you are interested in knowing whether the current knowledge base on nutrient recovery technologies is sufficient to further develop urine recycling TISs, then this paper is for you:

We ( Robin Harder, Prithvi Simha, Bjorn Vinneras, Jennifer McConville and myself) conducted a bibliometric analysis and comprehensive mapping of existing urine recycling knowledge and used a novel multi-criteria framework to evaluate whether the development of such a TIS is feasible. Results showed that the rate of publications and knowledge diffusion increased sharply in 2011–2021 compared to 1990–2010. However, the function still has insufficiency in some criteria. … paper is attached.
Happy reading!

Resource-oriented sanitation: Identifying appropriate technologies and environmental gains by coupling Santiago software and life cycle assessment in a Brazilian case study


Priscila de Morais Lima and Jennifer McConville recently published a paper in the Journal Science of the Total Environment in collaboration with Thais Andrade de Sampaio Lopes and Luciano Matos Queiroz from Brazil.  They looked into resource recovery appropriate technologies for wastewater treatment in Brazil by coupling the Santiago software and Life Cycle Assessment to generate appropriate scenarios and to assess the environmental impacts. Their comparison between the scenarios generated by Santiago and the baseline of UASB reactors showed that urine and faeces separation with soil application performed best in most categories. As also verified in several other LCA papers, electricity and transport play major roles in sanitation systems; and even though the UASB reactors had high CO2 emissions, it has potential for resource recovery.


Implementation of resource recovery technologies is becoming increasingly important as humans are exhausting the world’s natural resources. Recovering nutrients and water from wastewater treatment systems will play an important role in changing the current trends towards a circular economy. However, guidance is still needed to determine the most appropriate way to do this. In this study, two decision-support tools, sanitation planning software (Santiago) and life cycle assessment (LCA), were applied to identify appropriate technologies and their environmental impacts. As a case study, current and alternative scenarios for a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Campo Grande, west-central Brazil, were used. Among 12 scenarios provided by Santiago for efficient nutrient recovery, eight were selected for further assessment. The current WWTP system (UASB reactors) resulted in the highest negative impacts in two of nine assessment categories (freshwater and marine eutrophication) due to nutrient discharge into water. A source separation scenario with urine stored in a urine bank and co-composting of faeces showed the best overall performance. Electricity consumption played a crucial role in impacts in several categories, while water consumption was not significantly affected by choice of the toilet. One Santiago scenario matched the most appropriate scenario with the best environmental performance, but the other seven scenarios were not as beneficial, indicating a need for some adjustments in the software. These results highlight the importance of performing LCA to compare alternative scenarios, even when using a tool designed to identify locally appropriate technologies. The results also indicate that the current wastewater treatment system has reasonable environmental performance but could be improved if measures were taken to recover energy and reuse water.

The full paper is available:


Almedalen 2022 Presentations by Jenna Senecal


On July 3rd Jenna Senecal presented at Almedalen 2022. The first presentation was about our urine treatment technology (link to the video presentation found here The second was a panel discussion about youth and sustainable food systems hosted by SIANI, World Food Program, and Agroforestry Network (link to the video presentation found here


Barley plant trial on Gotland is growing well


On Gotland, we have a 350 m2 field trial growing barley that has been fertilized with dried urine (collected on Gotland in summer 2021 with TouchDown), mineral fertilizer or no fertilizer. This summer, we complemented the urine fertilizer with mineral phosphorus to match the recommended fertilizer needs of malting barley. The fertilized plants are growing well, while the none fertilized plants are shorter. We will harvest in late August and test the grain quality.

  • Jenna Senecal inspecting the barley plants, July 2nd ;
Photo: Samuel Blyth








  • Barley plants (day 54) fertilized with urine (left), mineral fertilizer (right) or no fertilizer (middle) ;
Photo: Samuel Blyth

How to evaluate the effectiveness of game-based interventions in decision-making process?


In this latest publication on game-based approaches for planning and decision-making for sanitation, we have collaborated with researchers at EAWAG. The study aimed to answer the question: how effective are game-based interventions specifically designed to support decision-making processes? We used an illustrative case to reflect on this question. We simultaneously designed a card game to support sanitation decision-making and an evaluation procedure.

We found that it is possible to address the dual challenge of game-based interventions for participatory decision-making processes:

(1) designing an informative and engaging game-based intervention without telling participants what to think and

(2) designing a tailored evaluation procedure. Designing the game-based intervention and its evaluation simultaneously is valuable both to improve the quality of the game, but also the opportunity provided a structured assessment of the results.

We encourage others to follow this approach and use the evaluation framework proposed in this paper.