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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:38 pm 
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Hello everyone. I've just begun researching composting, and I was surprised that googling "composting forum" actually came up with pages of results for forums, much less for posts on the subject, so I'm a bit overwhelmed. There is a huge body of (very dispersed) knowledge out there, but most of it seems to be oriented toward producing generic fertilizer rather than a particular set of chemical components.

Likewise, should one dare to search amazon books for "composting", there are a veritable plethora of sources. Unfortunately they too are focused on the resulting mixture and levels of K, P, Ca, and other nutrients taken as a whole.

What I'm looking for is information which can take me towards a composting system where mammal urine goes in one end, and a liquid stream rich in soluble nitrates exit the other. The other products (methane, solids, etc) are completely secondary.

I see MANY general texts, webpages, etc., out there. I've familiarized myself with a lot of them. Can anyone recommend a text, paper, webpage, or expert who might take me "the next step" toward my goal?

Thank you for your consideration,
-Riventree

P.S.

The short version of the reason that I'm doing this project is: I have a stream (no pun intended) of urine on the order of 10-100L per day, and I'd like to turn it into something useful rather than dumping it down the drain.

Ammonia is one possibility: Drop in some urease from dried soybeans and capture the ammonia via air-stripping. Simple, but there are two downsides: First, the volume doesn't change much (urine -> NH4(aq)) Second, leaks are smelly.

On the other hand, if I can further bioconvert the urine/ammonia to nitrates, those can be dried and transported easily, and have no odor in the case of a leak in the system or the transport.

Please keep the ideas coming! I'm open to any suggestions out there, in terms of chemistry, physical setup, "right" compost mix, temperature, etc.

All help welcomed thankfully
-Riventree


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:54 pm 
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Well, I have to ask - what is this source of urine? And are there any solids to accompany it? Manure is the usual ingredient in compost.

Where are you? Do you plan to use the compost yourself? What do you grow? Are you an organic gardener? It sounds like nitrogen is the main concern but high-nitrogen fertilizer isn't that great for a garden, organic or otherwise.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:59 pm 
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The source is both animal (mammal) and human. 10-100L per day is a lot to flush down the drain, and the solids are already taken care of, so I was looking for some efficient way to recover the useful components. I posted to composting forums expecting "merely" recipes and setups to convert it into nitrates, but happily the responses have been far broader than that.

One person has suggested mushroom farming/growing... apparently mushrooms can take in a substantial load of ammonia directly, unlike other plants for which substantial amounts of ammonia can be toxic. Likewise another person has suggested just pooling it and adding vinegar, producing ammonium acetate which could be crystallized and removed. Either method would be aided by the addition of some soy based urease.

On the other hand, if there's a good way to take the urea->ammonia->nitrite->nitrate path to its normal biological terminus, I'm all ears.

-Riventree


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:30 pm 
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The easiest and safest thing I can suggest is to use a composting toilet. Frankly, separating and handling waste without knowing what you're doing is something you need to be careful about. You need more information than what you'll get here on a gardening site.

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