Global potential of phosphorus recovery from human urine and feces

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This study geospatially quantifies the mass of an essential fertilizer element, phosphorus, available from human urine and feces, globally, regionally, and by specific country. The analysis is performed over two population scenarios (2009 and 2050). This important material flow is related to the presence of improved sanitation facilities and also considers the global trend of urbanization. Results show that in 2009 the phosphorus available from urine is approximately 1.68. million metric tons (with similar mass available from feces). If collected, the phosphorus available from urine and feces could account for 22% of the total global phosphorus demand. In 2050 the available phosphorus from urine that is associated with population increases only will increase to 2.16. million metric tons (with similar mass available from feces). The available phosphorus from urine and feces produced in urban settings is currently approximately 0.88. million metric tons and will increase with population growth to over 1.5. million metric tons by 2050. Results point to the large potential source of human-derived phosphorus in developing regions like Africa and Asia that have a large population currently unserved by improved sanitation facilities. These regions have great potential to implement urine diversion and reuse and composting or recovery of biosolids, because innovative technologies can be integrated with improvements in sanitation coverage. In contrast, other regions with extensive sanitation coverage like Europe and North America need to determine how to retrofit existing sanitation technology combined that is combined with human behavioral changes to recover phosphorus and other valuable nutrients. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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