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.

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And without the LED lights on:

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Idea for an anthroponics urinal

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

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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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New “decoupled” anthroponics experiment underway

After some hiatus, I have started a new decoupled anthroponics experiment underway. This time, the aged urine is added weekly after some of the previously biofiltered water is transferred to the DWC component, to prevent any toxicity with the high ammonia levels. I have also fixed a bigger air pump, so the mixing is much better in the biofilter.

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