Lactic Acid Fermentation of Human Urine to Improve its Fertilising Value and Reduce Odour Emissions

Markus Wernli, Nadejda Andreev, Mariska Ronteltap, Boris Boincean, Elena Zubcov, Nina Bagrin, Natalia Borodin, Piet Lens

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


During storage of urine, urea is biologically decomposed to ammonia, which can be lost through volatilization and in turn causes significant unpleasant smell. In response, lactic acid fermentation of urine is a cost-effective technique to decrease nitrogen volatilization and reduce odour emissions. Fresh urine was lacto-fermented for 36 days in closed glass jars with a lactic acid bacterial inoculum from sauerkraut juice and compared to untreated, stored urine. In the lacto-fermented urine, the pH was reduced to 3.8e4.7 and the ammonium content by 22e30%, while the pH of the untreated urine rose to 6.1 and its ammonium content increased by 32% due to urea hydrolysis. The concentration of lactic acid bacteria in lacto-fermented urine was 7.3 CFU ml1, suggesting that urine is a suitable growth medium for lactic acid bacteria. The odour of the stored urine was subjectively perceived by four people to be twice as strong as that of lacto-fermented samples. Lacto-fermented urine induced increased radish germination compared to stored urine (74e86% versus 2e31%). Adding a lactic
acid bacterial inoculum to one week old urine in the storage tanks in a urine-diverting dry toilet reduced the pH from 8.9 to 7.7 after one month, while the ammonium content increased by 35%, probably due to the high initial pH of the urine. Given that the hydrolyzed stale urine has a high buffering capacity, the lactic acid bacterial inoculum should be added to the urine storage tank of a UDDT before urine starts to accumulate there to increase the efficiency of the lactic acid fermentation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Human urine
  • Lactic acid fermentation Urine
  • Urine hydrolysis
  • Nutrient recycling
  • Odour emissions control Ecological
  • Ecological sanitation


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