Project » The Challenge“

Phosphorus is a key plant nutrient and a major economic factor – around 90% of the phosphorus produced annually are used in the fertiliser industry. Global demand is currently met by phosphate rock mined outside Europe in an environmentally harmful manner. These natural phosphate sources are getting scarce, resulting in an upward price development and making Europe strongly dependent on phosphate imports. The tapping of new sources of phosphorus is therefore imperative for European agriculture and the economy as a whole.

Sewage sludge is considered a very promising alternative to phosphate rock as it contains considerable amounts of phosphorus – the P-content in the sewage sludge produced in Europe could replace roughly up to 20 or 30% of the phosphate imports into the EU. Although many methods have been developed to recover phosphorus from sewage over the past years and decades, none has yet been realised at industrial scale due to the complex and costly processes involved and the low recycling rates achieved.

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