Mimicking and Inhibiting Urea Hydrolysis in Nonwater Urinals

Daniella Saetta, Treavor Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Nonwater urinals are critical in the implementation of building-scale water conservation and urine diversion systems. However, because of the composition of urine and the prevalence of the urease enzyme that hydrolyzes urea, minerals readily precipitate in nonwater urinals and pipes. This leads to clogging, malodor, and possible replacement of nonwater urinals with flush urinals. Accordingly, the goal of this research was to provide an improved understanding of the urea hydrolysis process in nonwater urinals to benefit water conservation and phosphate recovery efforts. Acetic acid addition was used in nonwater urinals to inhibit the urea hydrolysis reaction by lowering the pH, thereby making the precipitation of calcium- and magnesium-containing minerals less favorable. Of the acids tested, 2.5 mL of 2500 mequiv/L acetic acid added after every urination event was able to inhibit urea hydrolysis in synthetic urine and real urine as indicated by the pH and conductivity of the effluent urine. Acid addition also allowed for 43% more phosphate recovery via struvite precipitation in the acetic acid addition synthetic urine than the synthetic urine with no acid addition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13850-13858
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 5 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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