Nutrient Recovery and Reuse – Help Us Design a Systematic Map and Evidence Platform

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Research and development of circular nutrient technologies has intensified over the past years, making research output in this field increasingly hard to navigate and keep track of. There is a need for a robust and comprehensive mapping and synthesis of existing relevant research and better brokering of knowledge to policy and practice.

Researchers at our group are involved in the collaborative project End-of-wastewater that aims to:

  • Collate available peer-reviewed English language research on nutrient recovery and reuse into a comprehensive evidence base using systematic mapping methodology.
  • Develop an online evidence platform to navigate relevant scientific papers with ease.

Our new team member Gabriella will work with microplastics!

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My name is Gabriella and I have just started working as a research assistant at SLU. I have studied environmental engineering and I graduate recently. My dissertation focused on small-scale water purification and was carried out as an MFS (Minor Field Study) project in the Kenyan capital Nairobi 2019. In Nairobi’s slum Kibera, the possibility of purifying irrigation water with a vertical biochar garden filter was designed, implemented and evaluated. I am generally interested in water issues, but especially in water purification technology and small-scale sewage systems. As a research assistant, I will focus on microplastic analyzes and filtration, which feels both new, important and exciting!

Survey for End of Wastewater project

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Robin and Jennifer from the group are collaborating in the End of Wastewater project that is also led by Robin. The aim of the project is to co-create, together with committed Swedish actors, a knowledge brokering and public engagement toolbox to support and encourage acceptance, implementation and upscaling of innovative and sustainable solutions to recirculate nutrients and carbon from human excreta and other organic residuals to agriculture. We are circulating a survey to collect information from diverse actors about how to design this knowledge tool and the support engagement material.

Luis successfully defended his PhD thesis!

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Luis Fernando Perez Mercado successfully defended his thesis “Farm-based technologies for management of risks from irrigation with wastewater-polluted sources in Cochabamba, Bolivia” on April 16.

Link to thesis: https://pub.epsilon.slu.se/16783/1/perez_mercado_l_200324.pdf

A totally new concept with having the evaluation performed over link. All was working well and the defence was a success!

Pictures from defence: https://photos.app.goo.gl/vHkR5kvaSPQv1xcp9

Pharmaceutical pollution of water resources in Nakivubo wetlands & Lake Victoria, Uganda

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This study investigated the occurrence and removal in wastewater and water bodies in Nakivubo wetland area and Inner Murchison Bay, Lake Victoria, of common prescription and non-prescription pharmaceutically-active substances (PhACs) sold in Kampala city, Uganda. A questionnaire was sent to 20 pharmacies in Kampala, to identify the most commonly sold PhACs in the city. During two sampling campaigns, samples were collected from Bugolobi wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) influent and effluent and surface water samples from Nakivubo channel, Nakivubo wetland and Inner Murchison Bay. The concentrations of 28 PhACs, organic matter, solids and nutrients in water samples were analysed. Ciprofloxacin (antibiotic), cetirizine (anti-allergy), metformin (anti-diabetes), metronidazole (antibiotic) and omeprazole (gastric therapy) were reported by pharmacies to be the PhACs most commonly sold in the study area. Chemical analysis of water samples revealed that trimethoprim (antibiotic) and sulfamethoxazole (antibiotic) were the dominant PhACs in water from all sites except Lake Victoria.

Press Release: Nitrogen should be given higher priority than phosphorus when recovering plant nutrients from wastewater

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Phosphorus has long been the highest priority when recovering plant nutrients from sewage. However, nitrogen should be given top priority according to a new evaluation of criteria linked to the use of non-renewable resources, vulnerability, and potentially reduced climate impact. 

When prioritizing recovery from wastewater, phosphorus often emphasised as it is necessary for all life and as it is stated to soon run out (Peak phosphorus). There is reason to question this one-sided emphasis on phosphorus. The report “Phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and sulphur – access, vulnerability and recovery from wastewater” reviews a) risks linked to the production of artificial fertilizers from non-renewable resources; b) the vulnerability of Swedish plant production to blocked import of artificial fertilizers; and c) potentially reduced climate impact in the recovery of plant nutrients from wastewater.

All investigated criteria show that the recovery of nitrogen from wastewater should be given highest prioritized, and significantly higher than the recovery of both phosphorus and potassium. According to its directives, the presently working governmental investigation on sewage sludge is obliged to submit a proposal focused on recycling of phosphorus from sewage sludge by 10 January 2020. The risk is obvious that the wastewater sector will be forced to devote considerable resources to phosphorus recovery, resources that should be invested in nitrogen recovery to best contribute towards increased sustainability for both the wastewater system and the entire food system.

For more information, read the report: Fosfor, kväve, kalium och svavel – tillgång, sårbarhet och återvinning från avlopp. Download from: https://pub.epsilon.slu.se/16407/

SIDA International Training Programme at Kretsloppsteknik

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Earlier this week, a few members of Kretsloppsteknik hosted a group of SIDA’s International Training Programme participants in Uppsala. NIRAS on behalf of SIDA implements a number of International Training Programmes. Kretsloppsteknik is involved as part of this program through NIRAS with focus on participants from both Asian and African countries. During these visits, we teach, present, and do technology demonstration through field visits talking about safe nutrient recycling, source-separating sanitation systems, management of organic wastes, socio-technical systems analysis, etc.

Pharmaceuticals in source separated sanitation systems: Fecal sludge and blackwater treatment

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In this article, the occurrence and fate of 29 multiple-class pharmaceuticals (PhACs) in two source separated sanitation systems based on: (i) batch experiments for the anaerobic digestion (AD) of fecal sludge under mesophilic (37 °C) and thermophilic (52 °C) conditions, and (ii) a full-scale blackwater treatment plant using wet composting and sanitation with urea addition. For more information, please read: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896971935524X .

The Cary 620 FTIR microscopes coupled with Cary 660 IR spectroscopes and FTIR microscopy is ready for microplastic analyses

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After investing 1.5 million Swedish Crowns, the new Cary 620 FTIR microscope coupled with Cary 660 IR spectroscopes and FTIR microscopy is finally installed and ready for operation for analyses of microplastics in Department of Energy and Technology. Using the Focal plane array detector and the FTIR spectrophotometer, the instrument will be used to implement chemical imaging to identify, quantify and determine the particle size of micro plastics and other substances.  The instrument is homed by Environmental technology group under the responsibility of Sahar Dalahmeh.

Participatory design of biochar filters for small scale wastewater treatment

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FORMAS has granted 3 mkr to implement multi-actor engagement and particpatory design approach to understand how socio-technical factors affect the development of biochar-based systems as an alternative for onsite wastewater treatment in Sweden. Based on the participatory design criteria, laboratory and demonstration biochar-based treatment systems will be implemented. The technical performance and maintenance and operation requirements will be evaluated with the relevant stakeholders. Sustainability of biochar solution will be assessed in a multi-criteria sustainability assessment, including social, economic and environmental impacts. The project is lead by Sahar Dalahmeh from the environmental technology group.