MM Blog: Extracting Fertilizer From Sewage

A look at a method to harvest phosphorus from wastewater.

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Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart, Germany, have developed a new method to draw phosphorus, a key component of fertilizers, from wastewater. The best part is that it incorporates a reactor that is environmentally-friendly, doesn't rely on chemicals and is ready to be marketed.
Called ePhos, the reactor can be installed at water treatment plants and is powered with an electrolysis cell that enables the extraction of nitrogen and phosphorus with a magnesium electrode. Since the process is electrochemical, it doesn't require the addition of chemicals such as salt or lye. 

Trial tests have been encouraging with the process succeeding in recovering 85 percent of phosphorous on average. Research continues on improving the reactor by adding processing modules so waste treatment plants can recover ammonium as well.
The institute hopes to have the first industrial-scale demo plant up and running in the U.S. in September through its licensing partner Ovivo. 

SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

Is this technology a great way to extract chemicals from wastewater? Could this technology be used in a manufacturing setting? 

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