SEAS Student Pioneering a Fertilizer Revolution

Originally published: 
January, 2017

Did you know that a single person generates enough urine in one day to fertilize the crops required to produce an entire loaf of bread? 

According to Abe Noe-Hays, research director and co-founder of the Vermont-based Rich Earth Institute (REI), approximately twenty five percent of America's fertilizer use could be met by urine alone. However, capturing and converting urine to fetilizer is a difficult task, met with an even loftier task of influencing public perception of the idea. SNRE student, Malavika Sahai, is working with Noe-Hays, and other graduate students in the College of Engineering to address these challenges. The team has pioneered a "urine diverting toilet system" that allows urine from toilets and urinals to be captured, treated, and converted into a useable fertilizer. This technology has just been installed in the G.G. Brown building on North Campus. To gauge public perception of the system, Malavika has implemented a bathroom exit-survey, asking users how they react to the idea, in concept and in practice. You can learn more about the project and Malavika's impressive work in the feature on WXYZ news.

Photo courtesy: WXYZ news