Skip to main content

Processing human urine to recycle nutrients into fertilizer - Science Nation

Grade Level Grades 9-12


Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Pinterest
Share On LinkedIn


Engineering a system that transforms human urine from a waste product into a fertilizer for more sustainable agriculture

This sustainable agriculture research relies on a unique contribution from humans -- urine. And, once you get beyond the "giggle" factor, it's an idea that is proving itself worthy of investigation.

Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that require energy to produce. Human urine is full of those same nutrients, but we literally flush them down the toilet. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), University of Michigan environmental engineer Nancy Love and a team that includes the non-profit, Rich Earth Institute, are fine-tuning new methods to process human urine into fertilizer. The team wants to create a more sustainable fertilizer while at the same time eliminating a waste that contributes to water pollution.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1639244, INFEWS/Track 3: Advancing Technologies and Improving Communication of Urine-Derived Fertilizers for Food Production within a Risk-Based Framework. The INFEWS – Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems -- awards aim to help decision makers better address human needs and protect the natural world. The INFEWS goals for scientists and policy makers include a new understanding of the food-energy-water system, insights from innovative modeling, and cutting-edge technologies to reduce waste and increase efficiencies.

NSF Grant URL:…

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent 
Kate Tobin, Science Nation Producer


Processing human urine to recycle nutrients into fertilizer - Science Nation
Remote video URL


Write A Review!

Be the first to submit a review!