Identification and evaluation of phosphorus recovery technologies in an Irish context

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Resource or Project Abstract

Phosphorus (P) is essential for all life. Manufactured P fertilisers, produced from mined phosphate rock are essential to feed the growing population. Of the circa 22 Mt P added to the world economy annually from mined fossil phosphate resources, approximately 80-90% is used as fertiliser, 5-7% for animal feed additives and the remainder in various applications including food additives. P cannot be produced synthetically and has no substitute in food production. Phosphate rock is finite and non-renewable, with supply vulnerable to future phosphate scarcity, volatile pricing and geopolitical tensions. This is reflected in the inclusion of phosphate rock in the EU Critical Raw Materials list in 2014. Owing to the dependence of food security on P availability, there is a global need to promote more efficient use of P as well as its recovery and reuse. Notably, almost all of the 3 million tonnes of P consumed in food per year by the global population enters the wastewater sector. Municipal wastewaters therefore represent a major point source to recover P and re-establish a circular economy. Numerous technologies have been developed for recovering/recycling P from municipal wastewater. This project focused on identifying and evaluating current and developing phosphorus recovery technologies and assessing their viability in an Irish context.

A database of municipal WWTPs was generated containing details (where available) of phosphorus influent and effluent levels, capacity in terms of population equivalent value and any phosphorus treatment currently undertaken. Additional outputs include a Table of Phosphorus Recovery Technologies summarizing the details of 28 phosphorus recovery technologies identified in terms of the phosphorus source targeted, the phosphorus product produced, % phosphorus recovery, operational scale, Technology Readiness Level, details of the supplying/developing company and patent information, where relevant. The project also examined the potential market for recycled phosphorus products. The choice of suitable phosphorus recovery technologies, in an Irish context, is currently limited by the lack of enhanced biological phosphorus removal and mono-incineration within the Irish wastewater infrastructure, which are a prerequisite for several of the technologies identified.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Angela Boyce
University of Limerick

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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource Keywordsphosphorus, phosphorus recovery, wastewater treatment, phosphate rock
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2014-W-DS-22
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWater Quality
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceNone
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 0
Project Start Date Monday 23rd March 2015 (23-03-2015)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Friday 1st January 2010 (01-01-2010)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 31st December 2015 (31-12-2015)
Published on SAFERWednesday 1st June 2016 (01-06-2016)
Date of Last EditWednesday 1st June 2016 at 11:58:41 (01-06-2016)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 1st June 2016 at 11:58:41 (01-06-2016)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
This project focussed on phosphorus recovery in an Irish context. The database of municipal Irish WWTPs and additional information in the report on the Irish waste water treatment infrastructure focuses on facilities within the Republic of Ireland. The phosphorus recovery technologies detailed in the report are located outside Ireland in various locations, as indicated in the report.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
This project was funded under the EPA Water 2014 Call. Relevent drivers/guidance for the recovery of phosphorus from muncipal wastewater include the 2013 European Commission's 7th Science for Environment Policy 'In-depth Report' addressing 'Sustainable Phosphorus Use' as well as the inclusion of phosphate rock in the EU list of Critical Raw Materials in 2014. Phosphorus recycling is also supported by the ?Circular Economy Package? published by the European Commission in 2015 and this project is in line with the objectives of the EU FP7 P-Rex demonstration project.
Supplementary Information
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