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Diffuse phosphorus input to surface waters - new concepts in removal, recycling and management (P-TRAP)

Project description

Closing the phosphorus cycle

Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient in agriculture, but the resources of mineable P are limited, and mining of P ores has perturbed the global P cycles. Moreover, the flux of P from agricultural areas to surface water contributes to eutrophication, an over-enrichment of aquatic ecosystems with nutrients leading to accelerated growth of algae, loss in biodiversity and other detrimental impacts. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the P-TRAP project will develop new approaches to trap P in drained agricultural areas and in the sediments of eutrophic lakes. These approaches are based on the use of iron-containing by-products from water treatment. The P-loaded iron minerals will be converted into fertilisers for a sustainable circular economy with lower environmental impact.


Flux of phosphate (P) from agricultural areas to surface waters is wasting a resource which is becoming scarce and is in conflict with the principles of a circular economy. Enhanced loading of surface water with P is the main cause for eutrophication and presents a key challenge in meeting the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive. P-TRAP targets both problems and develops new methods and approaches to trap P in drained agricultural areas and in the sediments of eutrophic lakes. Trapping of P involves the application of iron(Fe)-containing by-products from drinking water treatment. P-TRAP aspires the ideas of a circular economy and aims at recovering the retained P in agricultural systems. Novel microbial technologies will be developed to convert P-loaded Fe-minerals into marketable fertilizers whose suitability will be evaluated. The new P-TRAP technologies have in common that they rely on the naturally strong connection between P and Fe and the innovative P-TRAP strategies will be underpinned by process-orientated investigations on the behavior of P during the transformation of Fe minerals. The latter are key in trapping and recycling of P in agricultural systems and lakes. P-TRAP establishes a framework of partners from multiple science and engineering disciplines. Integration of non-academic partners from various stakeholder groups into the P-TRAP consortium paves the way for direct implementation of the acquired knowledge. P-TRAP provides Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) an environment for conducting innovative scientific research by using state-of-the-art methodology. Training through P-TRAP increases the ESRs’ mobility between sectors, cultures, and nations and strengthens their responsibility to exploiting scientific results for societal and economical benefit. P-TRAP will offer ESRs an excellent starting point for a career of leadership in a number of environmental and sustainable business sectors, academia, and public administration.



Net EU contribution
€ 531 239,76
Heidelberglaan 8
3584 CS Utrecht

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West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (8)

Partners (7)