Phosphorus is a core element in the human food chain
Phosphorus and phosphate rock are two of the items on the EU's list of critical raw materials, due to their scarcity. This scarcity primarily effects the manufacture of fertilizers, where phosphorus is a crucial nutrient in the human food chain.
With the aim of reducing phosphate rock consumption, researchers at Ceit-IK4 constructed a pilot treatment plant that is capable of recovering phosphate salts from wastewater streams. The technology is currently being tested with synthetic streams and leachates that come from the biomethanization of municipal solid waste.
Once phosphorus is recovered, it can be used to obtain struvite, a material that contains phosphates, ammonium and magnesium and has been approved for use as a fertilizer. The pilot project is being carried out in conjunction with the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa's Department of the Environment. In addition to recycling the phosphorus present in municipal wastewater, the project also aims to increase the public's awareness of the importance of reusing waste generally and phosphorus in particular.