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Life Cycle Assessment of Urine Diversion Wastewater Treatment: Results and Software Tool

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
October 8, 2018

Urine diversion offers the potential to enhance the environmental performance of waste management systems by reducing the resources required to remove nutrients at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) while producing useful products, such as fertilizer. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a useful tool to assess the environmental performance of system alternatives. The research team developed a user-friendly LCA tool, configured to assess urine diversion and conversion to fertilizer products at a citywide scale compared to conventional approaches, to assist water professionals considering the potential environmental benefits of such systems. Based on the results, users can decide whether to further investigate options to divert urine to productive use, such as urine-derived fertilizers.

The tool was evaluated by considering three case studies: 1) A location in Vermont, 2) Widespread conversion in the State of Michigan, and 3) A location in Virginia complying with stringent Chesapeake Bay nutrient discharge standards. The tool proved useful and indicated environmental benefits in each instance, although the magnitude of benefits varied depending on the circumstances of the case history.

• Provides a user-friendly LCA tool that can be used to conduct a first level screening of the potential environmental benefits of urine diversion at the city scale.
• Frames the potential environment benefits of urine diversion and conversion to useful products, such as fertilizer for potentially interested parties.
• Demonstrates the utility of the tool by application to three case studies in three widely varying circumstances.
• Demonstrates the environmental benefits and tradeoffs of urine diversion in a variety of settings with differing water resource recovery facilities.
• Provides results to assist researchers and water professional to further consider and evaluate urine diversion as a wastewater management option.

Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment
Water Resources
case studies, concentrated urine, fertilizer production, ion exchange, life cycle assessment, nitrogen, phosphorus, resource recovery, struvite, Urine diversion, wastewater treatment
Publication Type
Full Citation
Hilton, Stephen, Bowen Zhou, Glen T. Daigger, Gregory Keoleian, Nancy Love, and Steven Skerlos. (2018) “Life Cycle Assessment of Urine Diversion Wastewater Treatment: Results and Software Tool.” Water Research Foundation (WRF) project number STAR-Na1R14/4899, 1-83.