Analysis and Experimental Exploration of a Nanofiltration membrane System, in the Context of Potential Urine Treatment Processes - Master thesis from the Pollution Research Group, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa)

Horstman, D. (2016)

Published in: 2016
Pages: 89

Horstman, D.

Uploaded by:
Santiago Septien Stringel

Partner profile:
University of KwaZulu-Natal


 Location of library entry

Content - Summary

This work determines the viability of a membrane system to recover salts valuable for potential agricultural use in urine, while separating these from any undesired components such as salts detrimental to plant growth.
To this end, membranes were compared to processes currently in use, or those proposed for future use, for treating sewerage and desalinating brines, as urine is a saline solution. The membrane processes in general were considered favourable as they usually require less energy than the other processes, are modular and mechanically relatively simple, can be used in many environments, and usually require no chemical additives to achieve separation.
Many configurations involving membrane systems would be possible, the most promising involving a combination of microfiltration pre-treatment for organics and solids removal, a nanofiltration membrane to split the potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen from the sodium chloride, and a forward osmosis membrane for the final separation to obtain potable water. The lack of detailed information regarding the nanofiltration membrane separation meant that the remainder of the project focussed on experimentally determining whether a nanofiltration membrane could perform the required salt separation. Three DOW-Filmtec polyamide membranes were chosen, namely the NF 270, NF 90 and XLE membranes, as they are readily available, commercially used membranes and polyamide seemed to be the most promising membrane material based on a review of the available literature.
Two solutions were tested using the membranes, namely stored urine and a synthetic urine solution. The membranes achieved rejections of between 20 and 65 % for nitrogen, 45 and 90 % for potassium, 35 and 80 % for phosphorous, 40 and 85 % for sodium, and 20 and 65 % for chloride. The fouling for the NF 270 membrane was negligible, while that of the NF 90 and XLE membranes resulted in around 15% decrease in flux. The flux of the NF 270 membrane, between 80 and 100 l/m2.h at 800 kPa TMP, was the highest, as expected, and corresponded well with literature values. The other membrane fluxes were a considerably lower, never exceeding 15 l/m2.h at 800 kPa TMP.
The necessary salt separation could not be achieved by the selected membranes and it was recommended that another membrane material should be tested, as well as repeating some experiments with the current membranes because of the high uncertainty of some of the results.

Additional information

Supervisors: Dr. Santiago Septien Stringel, Dr. Konstantina Velkushanova, Pr. Chris Buckley

Bibliographic information

Horstman, D. (2016). Analysis and Experimental Exploration of a Nanofiltration membrane System, in the Context of Potential Urine Treatment Processes - Master thesis from the Pollution Research Group, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa).

Filter tags

Case studies in other formats English Sub-Saharan Africa


MScEng Thesis - Urine NF

Format: pdf file
Size: 3.78 MB

Share this page on    

Follow us on    

SuSanA Partners  currently 360 partners

Sanitation events

SuSanA newsletter

Stay informed about the activities of SuSanA and its partners. The SuSanA newsletter is sent out around four times per year. It contains information about news, events, new partners, projects, discussions and publications of the SuSanA network.

Subscribe to newsletter »

Latest tweets mentioning SuSanA

  • 28-05-2020 16:25Water & Sanitation Hub:
    RT @giz_gmbh: Besonders in Entwicklungsländern stellt das Management von Menstruationshygiene eine besondere Herausforderung dar. 👩‍👧#Menst»
  • 28-05-2020 14:49Sanitation Coalition:
    Ghana’s low access to adequate & safe compound sanitation needed sanitation financing. So, the aim of Ghana sanitat… »
  • 28-05-2020 14:10GIZ:
    Besonders in Entwicklungsländern stellt das Management von Menstruationshygiene eine besondere Herausforderung dar.… »
  • 28-05-2020 12:11SuSanA:
    RT @MHDay28May: MH Day proudly presents Studio MH Day – the first official MH Day live broadcast! Tune in tomorrow for super interesting co… »
  • 28-05-2020 11:44SuSanA:
    RT @MHDay28May: 🩸 Today is the day!!! 🩸 Happy #MHDay2020! Today, we will set a sign. Altogether. Add your voice to the movement by posting… »
  • 28-05-2020 10:40Erik Harvey:
    @PHE_uk Here are, by the way - some useful resources that emphasise hand washing: and »

Tweets mentioning SuSanA »

29th SuSanA meeting, Kampala, Uganda

The 29th SuSanA meeting took place on Saturday, 22 February 2020 - just before the The African Water Association (AfWA) International Congress and Exhibition in Kampala, Uganda.

The documentation of the meeting is available here!

SuSanA meetings





Resources and publications

Our library has more than 3,000 publications, factsheets, presentations, drawings etc. from many different organisations. It continues to grow thanks to the contributions from our partners.

Add item to library »

The three links below take you to special groups of items in the library for more convenient access:


The project database contains nearly 400 sanitation projects of many different organizations dealing with research, implementation, advocacy, capacity development etc. Advanced filtering functions and a global map are also available. Information on how and why this database was created is here.

People working for SuSanA partners can add their own projects through their partner profile page. You might need your SuSanA login upgraded for this purpose. Please contact us if you would like to add a project.

Trainings, conference and events materials

Missed important conferences or courses? Catch up by using their materials for self study. These materials have been kindly provided by SuSanA partners.

Regional chapters

Use the map or the search tool to access the most relevant information and knowledge products for your region or country. This includes relevant resources, events, partners or projects.

Shit flow diagrams (SFDs), excreta flow diagrams

Shit flow diagrams (SFDs) help to visualize excreta management in urban settings. Access SFDs and more through the SFD Portal.




Discussion forum

Share knowledge, exchange experiences, discuss challenges, make announcements, ask questions and more. Hint: Your discussion forum login is the same as your SuSanA login. More about the forum's philosophy »

Integrated content

We are hosting content from some other communities of practice and information-sharing portals. This section also provides a link to SuSanA's Sanitation Wikipedia initiative.

Suggest content to add »

SuSanA partners

Not yet a SuSanA partner? Show your organisation's support to SuSanA's vision and engage in  knowledge sharing by becoming partners.

Apply to become a partner »

Individual membership

Register as an individual member of SuSanA free of charge. As a member you can interact with thousands of sanitation enthusiasts on the discussion forum.  You can also get engaged in one of our 13 working groups and our regional chapters. Our FAQs explain the benefits further.

By getting a SuSanA login you can fully participate in the SuSanA community!

Register as a member


Forgot your password?