Recycling and Assessment of Struvite Phosphorus from Sewage Sludge

Juergen Kern, Bernd Heinzmann, Bennar Markus, Anne Catherine Kaufmann, Nathalie Soethe, Christof Engels



This study presents an integrated approach for the recovery of P from the wastewater path. Since natural P sources are limited, recycling processes are making an increasingly important contribution to meeting the nutritional requirements of plant production. The groundwork for developing a new fertilizer from upgraded sewage sludge includes an evaluation of nutrients and heavy metal contents. Struvite (NH4MgPO4 • 6 H2O) derived from sewage sludge had a total P content of 6.1% with 3.5% being water-soluble. Plant availability was tested in pot experiments with wheat and maize. P uptake rates were 66.7% and 85.9%, respectively. In terms of heavy metal contents, struvite showed contaminant levels at least three times below the limiting values of the German Sewage Sludge Ordinance. Stricter rules of the German Federal Soil Protection Act are also fulfilled if the loading of heavy metals is considered during periodical fertilization. This implies that P recovery as struvite may be one way of declaring a new type of fertilizer.


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