Phosphate is an important fertilizer needed for food production. The sources are finite and mining and processing of the ore is an energy intensive and polluting process. Furthermore, sources of phosphate rock in the world are limited to a few countries and Europe is fully dependent on import of this critical resource for its food production. An appreciable part of the phosphate in food ends up in the wastewater and manure and cannot be reused effectively. In addition, the global phosphorus flows lead to accumulation of phosphorus in densely populated regions and regions with intensive livestock farming.
This theme focuses on the development of new technologies for wastewater and manure treatment that not only remove phosphate buts combine this with the recovery of phosphate into concentrated high value products. Such high value products can be transported over large distances in order to make it possible to transform on a global scale the current linear use of phosphate into a true circular use.
Core competence of the research theme is the understanding of interactions of phosphate with iron and calcium in complex organic matrices like sewage sludge and manure. This knowledge is currently used to stimulate recovery of the iron phosphate mineral vivianite from sludge and manure, to remove and recover phosphate from surface water and sewage effluent to ultra-low concentrations using reversible adsorption and to stimulate calcium phosphate agglomeration in manure digestion.