phosphate recovery from wastewater

Type of project: Thesis / Internship.
Duration: minimum 4 months (preferably 6+ months), starting from November, 2023.
Location: Wetsus, European centre of excellence for sustainable water technology, Leeuwarden.

There are a few possibilities for allowances:
–The allowance for students is €200. The student can apply for ‘Wetsus Grant’ allowance (€200 extra; an internal committee decides if the allowance will be granted).
– Students can apply for Erasmus; (if the Erasmus grant is less than €400, the student can apply for the Wetsus Grant).

*The Wetsus Grant allowance is not guaranteed and must be approved by the Grant Committee.


Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient mainly extracted from phosphate rock. Unfortunately, phosphate rock is a finite and non-renewable resource. Furthermore, the European Union (EU) does not have easily accessible and significant P reserves. For this reason, phosphate rock was declared a critical raw material in 2014. In addition, P is also an important pollutant. It is, therefore, necessary to establish the P circular economy to address the above issues.


Project description:

This project aims to optimize electrochemical phosphate recovery, a novel technology that allows phosphate to be removed and recovered from certain types of wastewater. This is possible thanks to the local alkaline environment created by the hydrogen evolution reaction. Although the feasibility of this technology has been demonstrated, some challenges need to be overcome before the reactor can be scaled up. The most important of these is the inhibition of chlorine evolution. This project aims to understand how chlorine-free operating conditions can affect cell performance, recovery efficiency and the quality of the product obtained from industrial wastewater treatment.

Your task will be to operate the electrochemical cell, understand the characteristics of the deposit obtained, analyse the wastewater, measure the phosphate concentrations during the operating time and finally estimate the removal efficiency of the rector using different operating conditions.


  • Some knowledge of electrochemistry.
  • Background in chemical engineering, chemistry, electrochemical engineering or environmental engineering.
  • Fluent in English and good English writing skills
  • EU citizen or non-EU citizen already enrolled in a Dutch university and living in the Netherlands
  • Being motivated



  • Work in an international and lively environment
  • Work in an advanced laboratory with many facilities
  • Possibility of having the Wetsus grant up to 400 euros (after evaluation)



Please upload your CV (max. 2 pages), a motivation letter (max. 1 page), and a list of the attended courses and the equivalent ECTS via the application form provided (in English). Do not hesitate to contact Simona Pruiti ( if you have further questions or need more information.