Phosphorus recovery from wastewater - Expert survey on present use and future potential
Today, a variety of different approaches to the recovery of phosphorus from wastewater, sludge, and sludge ash exist. These approaches differ basically by the origin of the used matter (wastewater, sludge liquor, fermented or nonfermented sludge ash) and the process (precipitation, wet-chemical extraction, and thermal treatment). To rate them according to their characteristics, the latter were phrased as hypotheses and subjected to an international expert survey. The survey showed that phosphorus recovery is expected to 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, phosphorus recycling from ash then becomes more interesting and has to be considered. Phosphorus recovery and source-separating sanitation technologies are more appropriate for industrialized countries than for developing countries. Because the growing awareness of environmental issues will prevent sludge from 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.