Ammonium and potassium removal from undiluted and diluted hydrolyzed urine using natural zeolites

Urusha Regmi, Treavor H. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


There is limited research comparing nutrient removal in concentrated and dilute waste streams. Accordingly, the goal of this research was to study the effect of dilution on ammonium and potassium removal from real hydrolyzed urine using natural zeolites. The performance of two natural zeolites, clinoptilolite and chabazite, was studied and compared using batch equilibrium experiments at four dilution levels defined as urine volume divided by total solution volume (expressed as a percent): 100%, 10%, 1% and 0.1%. The adsorption behavior of other exchangeable ions, namely sodium, calcium, and magnesium, in clinoptilolite and chabazite was studied to improve the understanding of ion exchange stoichiometry. Ammonium and potassium removals were highest in undiluted urine samples treated with clinoptilolite or chabazite. This is a key finding as it illustrates the benefit of collecting undiluted urine via source separation. High removal of ammonium and potassium by clinoptilolite and chabazite was also achieved in 10% urine solutions, which are representative of water-efficient flush systems and show that nutrient recovery is possible for diluted urine as well. Chabazite showed higher ammonium and much higher potassium removal than clinoptilolite. Finally, the results showed that clinoptilolite and chabazite demonstrated stoichiometric exchange between ammonium and potassium in urine solutions with mobile cations in the zeolites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128849
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Chabazite
  • Clinoptilolite
  • Nutrient recovery
  • Urine diversion
  • Urine source separation
  • Water conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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