An overview of Anthroponics

The following image intends to depict the current planned research in this new field of anthroponics, as well as the topics of research which I have already covered. The images in blue are the ones planned but not executed. The ones in white are the topics that have been executed in some form or another, as a proof of concept or resulting in a technical report. The one in red was an experiment that did not yield any positive results as a proof-of-concept.



As you can see, this new field of anthroponics can have many different branches. The first main categories relate to the source of nutrients, from the type of human waste used (urine only, feces only, or combined). In this regard, the last two are purely theoretical. The first one can be influenced by parameters which I have not had the opportunity or resources to test for its effects, such as the impact of a different diet as well as collecting from different individuals.

The second main category relates to the treatment of urine prior to its use in an hydroponic system. My method has been focused on the ammonia volatilisation from urea (AVfU), but another researcher in Hong Kong has been experimenting with lactic acid fermentation. Once he has some recorded results or when I perform my own experiment, such information will be shared in this website as well. Unlike AVfU, lactic acid fermentation reduces the pH to 3-4 while preventing bad odors. However, it is still unclear if the resulting liquid can grow plants hydroponically.

In the case of AVfU, the next step is the method of transforming the fresh urine into aged urine. While I have experimented with both alternatives, I have yet to try other catalysts such as jack beans (or even others). The resulting liquid, named “hummonia” (human + ammonia) can be used in many different system configurations, but a precise analysis of the liquid, in terms of its nutrient composition, the presence of microorganisms, persistent organic pollutants or even heavy metals has not yet been performed.

Of all the different system configurations possible, and experiments possible in those systems, the most complicated and potentially impossible one might be the passive system. A passive anthroponics system would have entail a pathway that does not require the energy requirements of an aerobic process or recirculating process. Given my current understand of the processes used in anthroponics, such as nitrification and AVfU, it might not be possible to have a working anthroponics system without the use of an air pump, a water pump, or some sort of mechanical agitation of the liquid.

Wrapping up the decoupled anthroponics experiment

Here are some pictures showing the recovery of the basil and coriander. After controlling the pH by adding phosphoric acid (in the DWC component) and wood ash (in the biofilter component), as well as adding some chelated iron in the DWC component, the plants have recovered dramatically.

The next step will be to harvest the produce, write a small technical report about this proof of concept, and do it again with the lessons we have learned from the pH drift and lack of nutrients.img_20161201_184425img_20161201_184434

Healthy roots growing in the DWC component, with a small airstone for oxygenation, and weekly dosage of the urine after ageing and biofiltration.


And without the LED lights on:


Idea for an anthroponics urinal

Below you can see the first concept idea for an anthroponics urinal:


The main idea is to use the techniques of anthroponics and solve the issue of urine handling by connecting the hydroponic component to the urine collection component.

Here’s how it would work in more detail: The urinal (which might be flush free or not) receives the urine by the donor and collects it in a hidden and airtight reservoir. In this reservoir, there exists a source of urease enzyme to decrease the time it takes to sterilize the urine. There will also be a water pump which will pump the sterilized about 1,5m – 2m height to feed two (or more) zipgrow towers (or equivalent solution).

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In these towers there will exist a high surface area matrix media made out of non-woven fiber plastic. This plastic will simultaneously be able to hold the plants and, at the same time, harbor the nitrifying bacteria which will convert the ammonia from the urinal into nitrate. At the bottom of the towers there will be a closed gutter system, which will collected the falling water and recirculate it back to the lowest point of the system where the water pump is located.

Depending on the installation, this system could have the towers placed next to windows (privacy concerns notwithstanding), or it would require a simple lighting system using two light tubes to light each individual tower.

The reason this first design showed two towers was due to our calculation that 14 lettuce plants could be grown using the daily amount of urine of one individual. But as with all things, testing will be required to confirm if the amount of urine produced by one individual per day might require more plants (and thus towers) or not.


Quick decoupled anthroponics update

As you will see in the pictures, some of the plants (especially the basil) are under performing while others seem to be doing fine. I have measured a more or less constant EC of 0,45 for 3 weeks now. On the other hand, the pH has a substantial difference in the DWC component and the Biofilter. The DWC has a tendency to increase the pH (usually stabilizing at 7,56), while the Biofilter (which gets aged urine at a pH above 9 once a week) crashes its pH down to 6,25 and even 5,6 (measured today after 3 days since the last urine addition).

Since the pH goes that low, it’s possible the nitrification process is incomplete, which would mean that some toxic ammonia and nitrite are being transferred to the DWC when I pump some of it every week. I have been adding phosphoric acid to the DWC component and now wood ash to the Biofilter, which should bounce the pH back up and at the same time complement any potential deficiencies.


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