Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: The production of nutrients and fertilisers currently relies heavily on mineral resources whose reserves are limited and depleting. Recovery of nutrients from biowaste streams (e.g. food waste, biodegradable fraction of Municipal Solid Waste, manure) represents a promising sustainable resource which could play a part when finding solutions to the foreseen global nutrient shortage. While there are a few experiences in Europe of nutrient recovery from waste water and from ashes, none of them has found application at large commercial scale. The potential to further source nutrients from waste streams requires the application of cost effective nutrient recovery processes, free of hazardous elements (heavy metals, pathogens) which provide readily available nutrients for crops, while competing in quality and price with the current fertilisers.


Scope: Development of dedicated recovery processes for nutrients from biowaste streams and bioresidues rich in plant nutrients (especially phosphorous and potassium compounds) through extraction, solubilisation, precipitation, chemical reaction and other emerging chemical  or biological processes. Upgrading of recovered nutrients to new sustainable fertilisers by a cost-effective combination of specific organic and mineral components. Proposals should address the industrial integration of the process into the cascaded valorisation of the waste streams (including the isolation of other added value products) and show the economic viability of the developed products via in-vivo trials.  A life-cycle assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed products in the whole value chain. Involvement of feedstock suppliers and end-users of the fertilisers could be considered towards assuring the viability of the developed concepts in the value chain.


It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of at least EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.


Expected impact:


·         Achieving technological validation of fertilisers with the improved concentration of individual nutrients (at least 15% of the overall volume when using recycled nutrients alone) and a high availability to plants (at least 70%).


·         Enabling the substitution of a significant percentage (at least 10%) of nitrogen and phosphorus with recycled components in commercial fertilisers.


·         Contribution to a reduction of imports of mineral resources while ehancing the re-use of waste products.

Improving fertilisers in view of environmental impact and price-competitiveness as compared to the current non bio-based alternatives.
Record Number: 665309 / Last updated on: 2015-03-25