• LiquidGold hopes to roll out thousands of self-contained, waterless, unisex urinals to schools in Limpopo soon.
  • The company want to supply the urinals – but it also wants to collect the urine.
  • An average school can help it produce 8 tons of fertiliser component a year, LiquidGold says, worth just shy of R64,000.

After a successful field test in KwaZulu-Natal, "circular economy" company LiquidGold believes it will soon land an order for thousands of waterless, unisex urinals in shipping containers at schools in Limpopo – to kickstart its fertiliser business.

"We're just waiting for some final signatures, then we can unlock the funding," says LiquidGold CEO and founder Orion Herman.

From the schools' perspective it will be a sanitation project, with 12-metre shipping containers appearing on their grounds, each with 14 urinals ready for use by pupils of either sex.

See also: Women may get standing-style urinals in SA malls following a successful trial

The containers require only an easily-constructed stable base, and each can be delivered within six weeks of being ordered, says Herman.

For LiquidGold, though, the containers will represent nodes in a network it can then expand into a large scale, if distributed, chemical factory.

LiquidGold collects urine and crystallises it into urea, a feeder chemical for the manufacture of nitrogen-release fertiliser. An average school provides enough urine for around 8 tons of urea a year, Herman says, worth just under R8,000 a ton under a current off-take agreement.

That makes every school worth some R64,000 in revenue per year.

With 20 schools or containers (larger schools take two) in an area, LiquidGold can profitably set up a processing container, says Herman, run by a local "waste entrepreneur".

"That becomes a viable job, and you have a depot from which to do maintenance on the [school] containers," says Herman.

With schools as the backbone of the network it should become viable to roll out units at taxi ranks and at other high-throughput public places, says Herman, rapidly scaling up the amount of urine collected.

"It could be the world's biggest urine-diversion project," he says.

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