Phosphorus Recovery from Sewage

EPA Grant Number: SU831817
Title: Phosphorus Recovery from Sewage
Investigators: Oerther, Daniel B. , Kinkle, Brian , Maurer, Eric , Sorial, George , Saikaly, Pascal , Bishop, Paul
Current Investigators: Oerther, Daniel B. , Clark, Catherine A. , deFranchi, Giovanni Battista , Gonzalez-Fernandez, Maria C. , Hosny, Ahmed Fouad , Carlarne, Cinnamon P , Riks, Angela , Humringhouse, Ben , Lieberth, Brett , Kinkle, Brian , Yates, Brian , Mouch, Daniel , Noonan, Doug , Atikovic, Emma , Maurer, Eric , Kleirer, Karen , Saikaly, Pascal , Lamendella, Regina , Pumphrey, Sarah
Institution: University of Cincinnati
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Phosphorus is a growth limiting nutrient that is mined from rock ore, refined, used in fertilizers, and discharged to the environment through municipal sewage. The impacts of phosphorus discharge include severe eutrophication of fresh water bodies. The future sustainable use of phosphorus must include recovery from municipal sewage and reprocessing as a fertilizer. Although global research is addressing this technical challenge, research in the U.S. lags. The innovative design that will be pursued in this project links bioprocess engineering for enhanced biological phosphorus removal, phosphorus recovery through chemical precipitation of struvite, and experimentally assessing phosphorus bioavailability from struvite as a slow-release fertilizer. The global availability of raw phosphorus rock ore is estimated to be less than 250 years. After destroying fresh water bodies through eutrophication, phosphorus released to the aquatic environment ultimately ends up trapped in disperse sediments. As agricultural practices intensify to meet the needs of a growing global population, irreversible phosphorus loss to sediment will ultimately stop food production entirely. Thus, phosphorus recovery from sewage has the immediate consequence of improving water quality by reducing eutrophication and the long-term sustainable benefit of allowing agriculture beyond the next 250 years. The positive results of this project will be measured through peer recognition by publication in archival journals, broadly disseminated through presentations of international scientific gatherings, and implemented at the University of Cincinnati through a significant modification of an on-going course offered by the PI entitled, CEE600/601 Chem & Microbiol Environ Sys/Lab. The current course will be modified to include struvite precipitation to recover phosphorus, bioprocess engineering with enhanced biological phosphorus removal, and the full-cycle of sustainability and P3 will be integrated into Environmental Engineering and Environmental Studies through follow-up study of the student design team examining the bioavailability and economic benefits of phosphorus recovered from sewage to be used as a fertilizer to improve agricultural practice.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

agriculture, analytical, bacteria, bioavailability, engineering, innovative technology, precipitation, renewable, sustainable development, water, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Chemicals Management, biofertilizer, phosphorus recovery, euthrophication, chemcial synthesis, pollution prevention, municipal sewage, application of agricultural chemicals

Relevant Websites:

Phosphorus recovery Exit
Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report