UGold will recover micronutrients at the source
UGold will recover micronutrients at the source
15 December 2017

The power of pee as a potential sustainable source of fertiliser is about to be tested for the first time.

The trial by University of Queensland and Queensland Urban Utilities will use technology known as UGold designed to recover nitrogen, phosphorus and micronutrients from urine at the source – the loo – and test the viability of using these nutrients as a safe, low-energy fertiliser.

UQ Advanced Water Management Centre Associate Professor Dr Stefano Freguia will lead the trial of the UGold electro-concentration system over nine months.

“Nitrogen and phosphorus are in high demand for agricultural fertiliser, but the current process of producing these resources is energy intensive and can create other environmental problems,” Dr Freguia said.

“The UGold system could create a more sustainable source of nitrogen and phosphorus for fertiliser and also reduce the amount of energy required to treat sewage – a win for business and the environment.

“We have been researching UGold for around two years, so the launch of this nine-month trial is a huge milestone for the project and for our team.”

A successful trial could pave the way for waterless toilets and onsite wastewater treatment plants at high-density offices, apartment buildings and even shopping centres in the future.

Queensland Urban Utilities spokesperson Michelle Cull said the trial was part of the utility’s ongoing research into waste-to-resource initiatives.

“We already have a poo-powered car which runs on electricity generated from sewage and the UGold project is another great example of turning waste into a useful resource such as fertiliser,” Ms Cull said.

“Removing nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater uses a huge amount of energy, so treating at the source could potentially save millions of dollars on electricity and infrastructure costs.

“We’re all very excited to see the results of the UGold trial and I’m pleased to report employees at our treatment plant have been eager to contribute.”

The trial will take place at Queensland Urban Utilities’ Innovation Centre at Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant, where two waterless urinals have been installed at an onsite toilet block and connected to an adjoining laboratory. 

The UGold product will be used to fertilise a garden which will be set up outside the laboratory to test how well it works as a fertiliser.

Media: Sharon James,, +61 7 3346 7205.