Determination of urine-derived odorous compounds in a source separation sanitation system

Bianxia Liu, Apostolos Giannis, Ailu Chen, Jiefeng Zhang, Victor W.C. Chang, Jing-Yuan Wang

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Source separation sanitation systems have attracted more and more attention recently. However, separate urine collection and treatment could induce odor issues, especially in large scale application. In order to avoid such issues, it is necessary to monitor the odor related compounds that might be generated during urine storage. This study investigated the odorous compounds that emitted from source-separated human urine under different hydrolysis conditions. Batch experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of temperature, stale/fresh urine ratio and urine dilution on odor emissions. It was found that ammonia, dimethyl disulfide, allyl methyl sulfide and 4-heptanone were the main odorous compounds generated from human urine, with headspace concentrations hundreds of times higher than their respective odor thresholds. Furthermore, the high temperature accelerated urine hydrolysis and liquid–gas mass transfer, resulting a remarkable increase of odor emissions from the urine solution. The addition of stale urine enhanced urine hydrolysis and expedited odor emissions. On the contrary, diluted urine emitted less odorous compounds ascribed to reduced concentrations of odorant precursors. In addition, this study quantified the odor emissions and revealed the constraints of urine source separation in real-world applications. To address the odor issue, several control strategies are recommended for odor mitigation or elimination from an engineering perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-249
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC–MS)
  • Odor emissions
  • Source separation
  • Urine hydrolysis
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

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