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Precipitation of Ammonium from Concentrated Industrial Wastes as Struvite: A Search for the Optimal Reagents

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Precipitation of struvite (MgNH4PO4) is a known process for purification of wastewater from high concentrations of ammonium. The optimal conditions for precipitation are basic pH (around 9) and sufficient concentrations of magnesium and phosphate ions. In this work, we accomplished efficient precipitation of ammonium from concentrated industrial waste stream by using magnesium oxide (MgO) both as a source of magnesium ions and as a base. Best results were obtained with technical-grade MgO, which provided 99% removal of ammonium. Moreover, ammonium removal occurred already at pH 7, and the residual ammonium concentration (50 mg/L) remained constant upon addition of more MgO without rising again, as occurs with sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This process may have two other advantages; it also can be relevant for the problem of uncontrolled precipitation of struvite in the supernatant of anaerobic sludge treatment plants, and the precipitate can be used as a fertilizer.

Keywords: magnesium ammonium phosphate; magnesium oxide; precipitation; struvite; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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