ARC Nutrients in a Circular Economy (NiCE) Hub

ARC Nutrients in a Circular Economy (NiCE) Hub

Diverting nutrients from sewers via urine diversion and processing into fertilisers


Increasing population growth and rapid urbanisation are placing escalating pressure on existing water infrastructure and agricultural food productivity to meet future supply and demand. Particularly, water utilities in Australia are faced with aging sewage transfer and treatment infrastructure, which will require replacement or upgrades in the near future to transport and process sewage from increasingly densely populated urban catchments. Separation of urine at the source can lead to a reduction of nutrient loads on sewage treatment plants, with consequent reduction in energy demand and capacity to process larger volumes of wastewater.

At the same time, growing food productivity will place pressure on available fertilisers, which in Australia are mostly imported and produced using highly unsustainable methods. Human urine is a potential source of untapped nutrients which could feed into an increasing demand of renewable fertilisers made locally to support local agricultural activities such as urban farming. 

The NiCE Hub will bring together the water and agriculture industries, along with manufacturing industries, regulators, councils and citizens to demonstrate a value chain for a circular economy of nutrients based on urine.

The ARC NiCE Hub aims to:

  • Make removal, transport, and treatment of sewage adaptable to fast-changing cities by creating and demonstrating decentralised, precinct-scale nutrient recovery opportunities;
  • Secure a new sustainable source of fertiliser for agriculture and horticulture through urine separation and processing at the source;
  • Better protect waterways from the harms of excess nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorous), pharmaceuticals and hormones; and,
  • Investigate the scalability, durability and resilience to variable field conditions of urine processing technologies for harvesting safe fertiliser with varying environmental and social challenges.

The ARC Hub for Nutrients in a Circular Economy (NiCE) was recently announced as successful. WaterRA is forming a consortium of water and health industries to join the Hub under WaterRA “Whole Water - water/energy/nutrient circular economy” research portfolio.

For more details please review the attached project brief and contact the WaterRA research managerslisted below.


WaterRA Contact

Marlene Hsu

Dr Arash Zamyadi

Amount being sought


Due Date

30th Jun, 2022