Phosphorus (P) is a critical raw material, essential for food production (as a fertilizer). There are no primary Phosphorus resources in the EU and future high cost or restricted availability due to unforeseen events may affect food security.
Phosphorus is used very inefficiently, with over 80% going to waste. A large proportion of P is lost to natural water bodies in sewage effluent (over 60%), where it causes eutrophication (leading to algal blooms, low oxygen conditions, and damage to wildlife and ecosystem processes).
Recovery of P from sewage sludge to use as fertilizer could have a significant benefit in reducing P imports and improving water quality. However, low P import prices, fragmented regulation (e.g. ban on using sewage sludge on farmland in some countries), and concerns regarding pollutants in sewage sludge are significant barriers to the development of a circular economy in P.
This project aims to focus on the process and cost efficiency of P recovery from the wastewater treatment process, which has two main steps: removal of P from wastewater and recovery of the P in a form that is bioavailable and economically transportable. An integrated, process optimization approach will lead to identification of beneficial process combinations, such as C-Tech (a highly efficient P removal process) and various conversion technologies for recovery of P-rich biosolids as fertilizer. Technical, regulatory, and economic barriers and opportunities will be addressed.