Newton Fund

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Boosting prosperity and health by turning sewage into fertiliser

In the Metropolitan Manila region in the Philippines, 75 percent of sewage directly flows into natural water bodies untreated, causing severe water pollution which adversely impacts people’s health and the local economy.

Newton funded researchers in the UK and the Philippines have now come up with an innovative solution based on rigorous research to effectively convert wastewater into nutrient-rich fertiliser. This has the potential to improve local economies by creating jobs, enhancing agricultural practises, increasing food security and improving sanitation and the provision of clean water.

Data obtained in collaboration with the local industry partner, Maynilad Water Services Inc., for a zone in Metro Manila with a population of 80,000, shows the annual recovery of 4,986kg of phosphate for fertiliser. This could potentially grow to 623,250kg if extended to the whole of Metro Manila. Furthermore, due to the benefits that the project brings to the agriculture sector this approach could be replicated in other Southeast Asian countries.

Agri-businesses have taken a keen interest in the project due to the global demand for phosphorous fertiliser. The project provides a foundation for further research to address the problem of water pollution and poor sanitation coverage. It is expected that the project’s success will incentivise other cities in the Philippines to invest in sanitation for all.

"I hope that the private sector will make use of this pioneering technology, which will particularly benefit farmers."

Ms Laarni Piloton, Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development


Water-energy-nutrient nexus in the cities of the future 

Project leads: Dr Devendra Saroj, University of Surrey, UK and Professor Michèle Clarke, University of Nottingham, UK and Professor Michael Angelo Promentilla, De La Salle University, Philippines

Delivery partners: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development