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Phosphorus Recovery from Wastewater – State-of-the-Art and Future Potential

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Today, there are already a variety of very different approaches to the recovery of phosphorus from wastewater, sludge and ashes. These approaches differ by the origin of the used matter (wastewater, sludge liquor, fermented or non-fermented sludge ash) and the process (precipitation, wet chemical extraction, and thermal treatment). They are characterized by their process steps, use of chemicals, complexity and effectiveness of the technology, economics, product quality for further use (fertilizer or industrial use), residuals, maturity of the technology, and degree of centralization and are rated positive, negative or neutral. Together these characteristics form the advantages and disadvantages of all the recovery processes. These were phrased as hypotheses that were used in an international expert survey.

The survey showed that P-recovery will become an established process over the next 20 years in industrialized countries for economic reasons. A decisive aspect in this regard will be the quality of the produced fertilizer. Simple technologies such as the recovery from sludge liquor seem to be preferred. If sludge is incinerated, P-recycling from ash then becomes more interesting and has to be considered. P-recovery and source separating sanitation technologies are more appropriate for industrialized countries than for developing countries. As the growing awareness of environmental issues will prevent sludge being used agriculturally in an increasing number of countries in the next decade, the market potential for nutrient recovery technologies will increase in the immediate future.
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Keywords: Phosphorus; Sludge; economic potential; recovery; sludge ash; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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