Run4Life – Recovery & utilisation of nutrients 4 low impact fertiliser - Sweden Water Research

Run4Life – Recovery & utilisation of nutrients 4 low impact fertiliser

The world food supply is entirely dependent on the use of fertilisers. However, the current fertiliser production practices are not sustainable. Domestic wastewater is an important carrier of resources: especially water, energy and nutrients. In the current centralised wastewater management systems these resources are hardly recovered.

Run4Life demonstrates an alternative strategy for improving the recovery of resources from wastewaters, using a decentralised approach where blackwater (toilet wastewater), grey water (other domestic wastewaters) and organic kitchen waste are collected separately. Each separate flow then receives the treatment needed for efficient resource recovery, for example fertiliser products.

Different innovative technologies are combined to achieve the goal of efficient nutrient recovery in the Run4Life concept. These are applied and optimised at four sites in Europe, where for the first time nutrients will be recovered from domestic waste streams of several 100 dwellings.

The demonstration sites are located in Ghent (Belgium), Helsingborg (Sweden), Sneek (the Netherlands) and Vigo (Spain). Each of the locations features different technologies and technology combinations, enabling the recovery of multiple resources.

In collaboration with fertilizer producers, the practical agricultural application of the resulting products are evaluated.

Oceanhamnen, Helsingborg

The demo site at Oceanhamnen in Helsingborg accommodates an innovative waste and wastewater management system for around 320 apartments and several office buildings, amounting to around 1800 population equivalents who are currently moving in. Blackwater, organic kitchen waste and greywater are separately collected and treated, aiming for maximum resource recovery. The Oceanhamnen local treatment system is located at the existing Helsingborg wastewater treatment plant (Öresund WWTP)) and managed by project partner NSVA. The RecoLab (recovery laboratory, test-bed facility) and an educational showroom are implemented together with the treatment plant.

´Three pipes out´: optimal treatment and recovery for three flows

The new residences and office buildings in the Oceanhamnen district are equipped with a vacuum collection system for toilet wastewater. Vacuum toilets only use around 1 litre of water per flush, resulting in a significant reduction in water use compared to standard flush systems, and a highly concentrated blackwater flow. Grinders for organic waste are installed in the kitchens, connected to a separate low pressure sewer collection pipe. Greywater, originating from e.g. showers and washing machines, are collected in a third pipe.

The organic kitchen waste and concentrated blackwater are transported to the treatment plant where the flows are treated in separate UASB reactors for anaerobic digestion. The produced biogas will be processed in the city’s central biogas network, for local use as fuel for public transport or street lighting. Sludge from both digesters is dewatered and used as separate organic fertiliser fractions. The liquid effluents is combined in one flow, which is used to recover struvite (a phosphate fertiliser) and ammonium sulphate (a nitrogen fertiliser). The leftover effluent is mixed with the greywater (not included in the Run4Life project). At first the effluent of this third treatment section is sent to the Öresund WWTP, but options to use it as a water source are currently being explored.

The Run4Life project receives funding from the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, GA no 730285.

You find the project website here:

Project leader

Nicolás Morales Pereira, Aqualia


Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
University of Santiago de Compostela
WE&B Water, Environment and Business for development
Wageningen University & Research
Zona Franca de Vigo
For Farmers
ASB Greenworld