EPA’s Nutrient Recycling Challenge

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Come to this session to learn about the Nutrient Recycling Challenge and meet some of the involved partners and experts, as well as some innovators who are competing to develop nutrient recovery technologies that meet the needs of pork and dairy farmers. This session will begin with an overview of the challenge. Next, innovators will provide snapshot presentations about the technology ideas they are working on, followed by live feedback/Q&A sessions on each technology where we can harness the buzzing brainpower at Waste to Worth. Finally, we will move into a “workshop” designed to support innovators participating in the Nutrient Recycling Challenge as they refine their designs before they build prototypes.

What did we do?

Background on the Nutrient Recycling Challenge

At Waste to Worth 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a brainstorm session about developing technologies that livestock farmers want to help manage manure nutrients. That session sowed the seeds for the Nutrient Recycling Challenge—a global competition to find affordable and effective nutrient recovery technologies that create valuable products farmers can use, transport, or sell to where nutrients are in demand. Pork and dairy producers, USDA, and environmental and scientific experts saw the tremendous opportunity to generate environmental and economic benefits, and partnered with EPA to launch the challenge in November 2015 (www.nutrientrecyclingchallenge.org).

What have we learned? 

There is a tremendous opportunity to generate environmental and economic benefits from manure by-products, but further innovation is needed to develop more effective and affordable technologies that can extract nutrients and create products that farmers can use, transport, or sell more easily to where nutrients are in demand.

In the Nutrient Recycling Challenge, innovators have proposed a range of technology systems to recover nitrogen and phosphorus from dairy and swine manure, including physical, chemical, biological, and thermal treatment systems. Some such systems may also be compatible with manure-to-energy technologies, such as anaerobic digesters. Farms of all sizes are interested in nutrient recovery, and there is demand for diverse types of technologies due to a diversity in end users. To improve the adoptability of nutrient recovery systems, it is critical that innovators are mindful of the affordability of technologies, and work to lower capital and operations and maintenance costs, and improve the potential for returns on investment. A key factor for offsetting the costs of a technology and improving its marketability will be in its ability to generate valuable nutrient-containing products that are competitive in the market.

Future Plans 

The challenge has four phases, in which innovators are turning concepts into designs, and eventually to pilot these working technologies on livestock farms. Thirty-four innovator teams whose concepts were selected from Phase I are refining technology designs in Phase II.  Design prototypes will be built in Phase III. This workshop is designed to help innovators maximize their potential for developing nutrient recovery technologies that meet farmer needs.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation 

Joseph Ziobro, Physical Scientist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Hema Subramanian, Environmental Protection Specialist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Corresponding author email 

ziobro.joseph@epa.gov; subramanian.hema@epa.gov

Session Agenda

  1. Overview of the Nutrient Recycling Challenge, Hema Subramanian and Joseph Ziobro of EPA
  2. Nutrient Recycling Challenge Partner Introductions, Nutrient Recycling Challenge Partners (including National Milk Producers Federation, Newtrient, Smithfield Foods, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Energy, and Water Environment & Reuse Foundation)
  3. Showcase of Innovators’ Technology Ideas
    • Decanter Centrifuge and Struvite Recovery for Manure Nutrient Management, Hiroko Yoshida
    • Manure Solids Separation BioFertilizer Produccion Drinking Water Efluente, Aicardo Roa Espinosa
    • Nutrient Recovery from Anaerobic Digestates, Rakesh Govind
    • Organic Waste Digestion and Nutrient Recycling, Steven Dvorak
    • Manure Treatment with the Black Solder Fly, Simon Gregg
  4. Nutrient Recycling Challenge Workshop for Innovators
    • Developing technologies: From concept to pilot (to full-scale), Matias Vanotti
    • Waste Systems Overview for Dairy and Swine and Innovative Technologies: What Steps Should be Taken (Lessons Learned), Jeff Porter

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