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Final Report Summary - SUSPHOS (A European Training Network for Sustainable Phosphorus Chemistry)

Website: SusPhos (
Phosphorus (P) is a vital resource for sustaining world agriculture and nutrition. Phosphorus is a limited non-renewable resource and several studies have shown that there is no unanimity as to the limited time till depletion. However, it is a fact that it will be depleted sooner or later. To guarantee the long-term food production and to aim for a more sustainable process, significant improvements in the use of phosphates are required. The global fertilizer use and livestock production have more than tripled the P-flows compared to preindustrial levels. The P flows will augment even more due to the rising population, the increasing (meat) consumption per capita and the production of biofuels. The P issue plays a role in the eutrophication of global water, degrading the surface water quality. Additionally, the global feedstock shortage is closely connected to the limited phosphate sources and is price correlated. Furthermore, the residue of fossil fuel extraction is an essential factor for P production and, vice versa, the (bio) fuel production is dependent on phosphates. To sustain food for our grandchildren, it is necessary to investigate this issue from a scientific, technological and social-economical point of view - the main goal of SusPhos, the Sustainable Use of Phosphorus.
The SusPhos network consisted of 12 PhD students and 2 postdocs and had four main research objectives to investigate the sustainable use of phosphorus in the chemical industry:
- T1: P Access. To provide a solid understanding of all modern techniques for the synthesis and spectroscopic characterization of phosphorus compounds, with relevance for industrial phosphorus chemistry.
- T2: P Recycling. Highlighting the major advances in the sustainable use of replacements of known industrial and laboratory scale P-based reagents for the synthesis of ligands, materials and fine chemicals and designing new recycling schemes for current industrial processes.
- T3: P Efficiency. To provide a solid understanding of the efficient use of phosphorus in an industrial setting.
- T4: P Lab to Market. SusPhos provided structured training courses on "moving research from the laboratory to the market".

At the moment, 21 articles have been published in well-known, peer-reviewed scientific journals, and more than 30 are in preparation. Besides the scientific articles, 2 book chapters, several newsletter items and 4 non-scientific articles has been published. We published, for example, an article about the sustainable use of phosphorus in The Conversation, an open access, non-scientific source of knowledge-based journalism, which is disseminated to more than 22,000 sites worldwide, and has 35 million readers per month.
Besides written outreach, the SusPhos fellows have given in total more than 100 oral presentations at national and international conferences and other meetings, as well as 50 poster presentations at national and international conferences. More than 10 courses at universities are given by SusPhos fellows and our fellows have supervised in total 9 PhD students, 18 master students, 26 bachelor students as well as several high school students, summer school participants and people who attended open days.
The SusPhos project has led to several interesting and valuable discoveries, especially the secondments of students from universities to companies and vice versa have functioned as catalysts for interesting scientific results. Steps on the lab-to –market have been made with two patents and one in the pipeline. Several new ligands have been fruitfully prepared which show successful application in catalysis or as industrially relevant phosphines. Also four different supported librariers are prepared which have been successfully applied in various catalytic reactions and catalysts recycling.
Furthermore, SusPhos has organized the first and second International Conference on Sustainable Phosphorus Chemistry. The research, meetings and conferences within the SusPhos project have led to several new collaborations between companies and universities and to two patents and one patent in preparation. Two partners are setting up a spin-off based on the information gathered within the SusPhos project. SusPhos is the initiator to think from a sustainable point of view, which has brought academia and industry together to facilitate a long-term shift to a more sustainable use of phosphorus in the industry.

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