Advanced Water Management Centre

Pee power wins innovation award

Tuesday, 11 September 2018
  • UGOLD team and AWA Qld President

Using the power of pee as a sustainable source of fertiliser has won a University of Queensland research team a Research Innovation Award.

The UGOLD research project, led by the Advanced Water Management Centre’s Associate Professor Stefano Freguia, won the 2018 Australian Water Association Qld Research Innovation Award.

“It is truly humbling to receive such an important recognition from Australia’s leading water network,” said Dr Freguia.

“This success rewards years of collaborative work between academia and industry, and paves the way towards further projects to turn our concept into a real-world technology”.

The UGOLD project presents the world’s first decentralised microbial electrochemical system to remove and recover macro+micro-nutrients from source-separated urine right at the source, the toilet.

The Research Innovation Award is given to a project that has made a significant contribution to water research.

The outcomes of the research must demonstrably add to the conservation or better use of water resources, knowledge of water technology, sociology, economics or culture aspects.

UGOLD technology autonomously recovers the nutrients in urine directly from the toilet resulting in a super-concentrated liquid fertiliser.

Nitrogen, phosphorous, and other micronutirents are recovered from the urine at high rates, with low energy consumption and no chemical dosing.

“Nitrogen and phosphorus are in high demand for agricultural fertiliser, but the current process of producing these resources is energy intensive and can create other environmental problems,” Dr Freguia said.

“The UGold system could create a more sustainable source of nitrogen and phosphorus for fertiliser and also reduce the amount of energy required to treat sewage – a win for business and the environment.”

The success of this technology could pave the way for waterless toilets and onsite wastewater treatment plants at high-density offices, apartment buildings and even shopping centres in the future.

State winners go on to compete in the National Awards, which are announced each year at the Ozwater Gala Dinner.