Project #5281

NSF Convergence Accelerator Track K: Advancing Equitable and Circular Water Solutions Through Source Separation

In Progress
Research Manager
Miriam Hacker, PhD
The Water Research Foundation
Resource Recovery
Decentralized Systems


Water exists in many forms in our communities as drinking water, sewage, stormwater, groundwater, lakes, and rivers. This water is managed to reduce pollution or flooding and to provide safe water for human consumption. While the water systems that support communities have served us well over time, they have historically been designed around a linear “use-then-dispose” approach. Water that is used to convey wastes generated by human activities in buildings (e.g., from toilets, laundry, showers, etc.) often contains materials that, if captured, have value but, if not captured, can cause pollution. Our goal is to change the way water contaminants are handled so that they are treated as ASSETS and never become waste.

This project is focused on demonstrating how source separation of used water can achieve economic, social, and environmental benefits. Specifically, this work focuses on urine separation, a form of source separation that prevents valuable NPK nutrients from becoming sewage and, instead, turns them into useful fertilizer products in a circular process. The project team is focused on technology innovation, workforce development, and business case development.