Plant Nutrients From Wastewater – ScienceDaily

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – there are valuable nutrients in wastewater. Unfortunately, these essential nutrients are lost in conventional sewage treatment plants. That is why Fraunhofer researchers are working on processes to recover these nutrients in a form that can be used for agriculture.

You will present your work on the Fraunhofer booth at IFAT ENTSORGA (September 13-17 in Munich).

Plants cannot thrive without nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium, which is why farmers usually use organic and industrially produced mineral fertilizers to supply wheat, maize and others with these vital substances. The need for nutrients will increase by leaps and bounds in the future, because only through the use of fertilizers can we supply the growing world population with food and meet the increasing demand for biofuels. Logically, this causes the prices of these nutrients to skyrocket. But that’s not the only problem. The deposits of rock phosphates required for the production of phosphate fertilizers are becoming increasingly scarce. The researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart are working on alternatives. You want to regain these essential nutrients from wastewater.

Dr.-Ing. “These nutrients are hardly recovered nowadays,” emphasizes Maria Soledad Stoll. Conventional municipal waste treatment plants use aluminum or iron salts, for example, to remove the valuable phosphate. “However, aluminum and iron phosphate salts can be toxic to plants even in low concentrations, which is why they cannot be used as fertilizers,” Ms. Stoll continues. The researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering are developing alternative methods of recovering nutrients from wastewater for agriculture.

“We are working on new methods for recovering magnesium ammonium phosphate and organic phosphorus from wastewater. The nutrients are then marketed directly as a full product and, depending on the nature of the soil and crops, used again in agriculture, ”says Ms. Stoll.

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