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Potential new source of fertilizer

A recently published study focuses on a new process for converting human waste from household septic tanks into phosphorus-rich fertilizers.

Biomedicine and chemical engineering and science Professor Toufiq RezaHas published a new treatise with former Florida Institute of Technology researchers Nepu Saha, Kyle McGaughy, and Ohio University Sarah Davis. “Assessment of hydrothermal carbonization as sustainable domestic sewage management in rural counties: a case study of Appalachian, Ohio” Published in the journal in August Comprehensive environmental science..

The main finding of this paper is that hydrothermal treatment of septic tank waste (known as septage) is economically feasible and this treatment can reduce the cost of pumping septages by up to 25 percent. .. Converting waste into usable fertilizer can also significantly reduce fertilizer demand in the study area. In this survey, it was in the district of Athens, Ohio, a county in the Appalachian region of the southeastern part of the state. This work can also have a significant impact on developing countries. Benefits that underpin some of Reza’s previous studies.

In this study, waste is converted to fertilizer by a high temperature and high pressure process called hydrothermal carbonization (HTC). HTC is a thermochemical conversion technology that can convert moist biomass into energy and chemicals without pre-drying. So far, this process has provided material that has the potential to promote the growth of non-edible crops, but Reza has further tested to see if fertilizers can be used for food growth. Said that you need to do.

“The idea is that human sewage has pathogens that must be killed and sterilized,” Reza said. “High temperature and high pressure breaks down many of these medicines in waste, such as antibiotics and the active ingredients of contraceptives.”

This renewable approach has the potential to financially support homeowners in addition to providing potential agricultural benefits. Almost 22 million American homes (about 25 percent of the total) use septic tanks. In Ohio, more than a million homes rely on their own treatment facilities, and the proportion of homes with septic tanks is even higher in rural Appalachia. According to a study by the Athens Municipal Health Department, more than 25% of Ohio septic tanks are not functioning well or fail due to a lack of understanding of the need for maintenance and expensive cleaning. doing. To provide cleaning services, septage carriers can charge homeowners approximately $ 200 to $ 500, depending on the size and complexity of the tank. This is a huge cost for rural homeowners, whose median and average household incomes are $ 24,326 and $ 48,628, respectively.

“The idea was whether we could turn their burdens into something of value and local utility on behalf of homeowners who could struggle to pay for Septage’s pumps. Someone came and turned it into fertilizer and sold it to the local community, which eliminated the septic tank pump fee, “Reza said. “That was the motivation. Can we take this responsibility from the homeowner and turn it into a profitable business?”

This approach may also be good news for waterways. Septages are considered dangerous because they can infect the disease, are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and can impair the outflow of nutrients. Excessive amounts of nutrients in rivers and other bodies of water can cause outbreaks of harmful algae and disrupt the reproductive endocrinology of fish.

In addition to testing fertilizers for the use of food crops, researchers are also planning to consider how septic tank waste removal systems will be implemented. Reza said the ideal situation would be to have a hydrothermal treatment plant near the drainage facility, but this is not always feasible in rural areas. One of the ideas they have is a mobile unit that can pick up waste, convert it into fertilizer, and move it to the next home.

Reza and researchers are also conducting a related project in Ohio, funded by the Sugarbush Foundation, with a focus on “reducing vector gravitation.” Find out if sewage treatment can reduce the number of flies and other insects. The next step is to design the pilot system and then request approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Reza hopes that the project’s focus on rural areas will lead to better renewable resource initiatives as a whole.

“If we develop individual counties and utilize their own resources, it will make their counties sustainable and bring about a sustainable state,” he said. “Instead of developing a city, we can probably sustainably develop a rural county, which will have a significant impact on the sustainability of the United States.”

Potential new source of fertilizer

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