Phosphorus is one essential element of life, which can neither be produced synthetically nor substituted by any other substance. Its importance as plant nutrient is emphasized by the huge amount of 975 000 tons of phosphorus annually imported into Europe to sustain good harvests. While phosphorus is a limited fossil element, its extensive recovery from “secondary deposits” is of paramount importance and follows the principles of the European Roadmap for Resource Recovery. Municipal wastewater represents a relevant phosphorus reserve and has the potential to cover about 20% of the demand. Technology concepts have been developed in recent European projects to tap into this local resource. While the traditional application of sewage sludge in agriculture is increasingly refused by stakeholders, this path has to be further secured to protect the environment and human health. In addition, technological alternatives to recycle phosphorus are available and need yet to be deployed on to the market. The P-REX project builds on the outputs of previous European research projects and will perform the first holistic full-scale evaluation of technical phosphorus recovery techniques using municipal sludge or ashes in comparison with phosphorus recycling by land application of sewage sludge. The technical, operational and economic data as well as a comprehensive ecotoxicological and plant-availability assessments will provide the basis of comprehensive life cycle and life cost assessments of phosphorus recovery processes. Complementing a market analysis, a guidance document for policy makers and end users will show the best phosphorus recovery options depending on regional conditions and illustrated by selected case studies. The results of the project will be extensively disseminated in international workshops and regional events in order to facilitate local implementations. P-REX will provide an essential milestone for our future development into a recycling society.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeCP - Collaborative project (generic)
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