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Metal-Organic Frameworks as multifunctional materials toward P-sustainability

Project description

Metal-Organic Frameworks for Sustainable Phosphorous Fertillisers

To feed the world’s growing population, farmers need to apply efficient fertilisers that typically contain phosphorus to increase crop yields. Most of the phosphorus used in fertilisers comes from phosphate rock, a finite resource. Zirconium-based metal–organic frameworks (Zr-MOFs) are deemed suitable materials for recovering phosphate, from both waste/eutrophicated water to produce P-fertilizers, because of their large-surface areas, water stability and strong affinity with phosphate. The EU-funded PSust-MOF project aims to improve the circular use of phosphate based fertilizers. On top of that the project will use water as the reaction medium for Zr-MOF synthesis compatible with the requirements of industrial production.


The efficient use of chemical fertilizers is essential to face the Sustainable Development Goal-2: Zero Hunger. Specifically, phosphorous-fertilizers are mainly produced by mining the non-renewable phosphate rock (PR), with both inefficient production and application processes causing dramatic environmental damages.
A new European fertilizer regulation encourages the development of new strategies driving to a P-circular economy. Phosphate could be recovered from both waste/eutrophicated water to produce P-fertilizers. However, the prevailing recovery rates cannot satisfy the whole P-demand. Thus, novel methods for a more sustainable production of P-fertilizers are also urgently needed.
Zirconium-based Metal-Organic Frameworks (Zr-MOFs) are porous crystalline materials easy to functionalize showing large surface areas, water stability and a strong affinity to phosphate. Hence, they could act as promising P-recovery adsorbents. Besides, they have recently proved to promote the dissolution of highly stable minerals. Thus, they could enhance the dissolution of PR under milder condition, mitigating the environmental risks of PR-mining. Unfortunately, Zr-MOFs are usually prepared using toxic organic solvents, limiting their industrial progress.
The project entitled “Metal-Organic Frameworks as multifunctional materials toward P-sustainability” (PSust-MOF) addresses the greener production Zr-MOFs with controlled particle features by using water as solvent. The main features determining both P-recovery process and promotion of apatite dissolution (main component of PR), will be identified. This knowledge will enable the design of advanced Zr-MOF materials which will be tested, for P-recovery or PR-dissolution, under real conditions. It is expected that the results of the project will not only have a strong impact on P-sustainability. Given the wide-range of applications of MOFs, the greener design of Zr-MOFs will also favour their industrial progress in multiple fields.


Net EU contribution
€ 160 932,48
18071 Granada

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Sur Andalucía Granada
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 160 932,48