Methods for phosphorus recovery from waste water: A review

Paper Details

Review Paper 01/08/2018
Views (377) Download (15)

Methods for phosphorus recovery from waste water: A review

Fatael Mahoo
J. Bio. Env. Sci.13( 2), 315-323, August 2018.
Certificate: JBES 2018 [Generate Certificate]


The commercial source of phosphorus is phosphate rock whose reserves are estimated to be depleted within 150 years at the current rate of use. Wastewater is used as an alternative source of phosphorus, which was initially recovered mainly by chemical precipitation. Nowadays, other methods have been researched and developed. They include biological, sewage sludge, wetland plants and wastewater irrigation. Chemical precipitation produces round pellets that can be used directly as fertilizer but the method is associated with high operating costs. Biological method is much more favorable than precipitation due to lower sludge production and chemical usage. However the system is less stable and flexible compared to chemical precipitation. Sewage sludge has high phosphorus recovery efficiency of 90-95% but it has an adverse effect on human health and the environment due to contaminants such as heavy metals and pathogens. Wastewater irrigation and wetland plants methods are potentially the simplest and low-cost methods of phosphorus recovery. However, poor wastewater irrigation management can affect human health as well as crops. Wetland plants must be routinely harvested to prevent phosphorus that has been incorporated into plant tissue to be returned to the water by decomposition processes. The choice of a method is more likely dependent on factors such as its efficiency, strength of wastewater, legislation, population served and economics of the particular method.


Anirudhan TS, Noelin BF, Manohar DM. 2006. Phosphate removal from wastewaters using a weak anion exchanger prepared from a lignocellulosic residue. Environmental Science Technology 40, 2740-2745.

Balmér P. 2004. Phosphorus recovery – an overview of potentials and possibilities. Water science and technology 49(10), 185.

Biswas BK. 2008. Removal and recovery of arsenic and phosphorus by means of adsorption onto orange waste, an available agricultural by-product. Phd thesis, Saga University, Japan 11-20.

Blanca J. 2006. Irrigation in Developing Countries Using Wastewater. International Review for Environmental Strategies 6(2), 229-250.

Chimenos JM, Fernandez AI, Villalba G, Segarra M, Urruticoechea A, Artaza B, Espiell F. 2003. Removal of ammonium and phosphates from wastewater resulting. Water Research 37, 1601-1607.

De-Bashan LE, Bashan Y. 2004. Recent advances in removing phosphorus from wastewater and its future use as fertilizer (1997–2003). Water Research 38, 4222-4246.

De-Haas DW, Wentzel MC, Ekama GA. 2000. The use of simultaneous chemical precipitation in modified activated sludge systems exhibiting biological excess phosphate removal. Part 1: Literature review. Water SA. 26(4), 439452.

Dickin S, Corinne J, Qudir M, Pizzacalla K. 2016. A review of health risks and pathways for exposure to wastewater use in agriculture. Environmental health perspectives 10(1289), 1509995.

Driver J, Lijmbach D, Steen I. 1999. Why Recover Phosphorus for Recycling, and How?. Environmental Technology 20(7), 651-662.

Finley S. 2008. Reuse of Domestic Greywater for the Irrigation of Food Crops. MSc thesis, McGill University, Canada 1-7.

Giesen A. 1999. Crystallisation process enables environmental friendly phosphate removal at low costs. Environmental Technology 20(7), 769-775.

Le Corre KS, Valsami-Jones E, Hobbs P, Parsons SA. 2009. Phosphorus recovery from wastewater by struvite crystallization: A review. Critical Review Environmental Science and Technology 39(6), 433-477.

Levlin E, Löwén M, Stark K, Hultman B. 2002. Effects of phosphorus recovery requirements on Swedish sludge management. Water Science and Technology 46 (4-5), 435-440.

Loganathan P, Vigneswaran S, Kandasamy J, Bolan NS. 2014. Removal and recovery of phosphate from water using sorption. Critical Review Environmental Science and Technology 44, 847-907.

Mahoo F, Mtei K, Njau K. 2018. Assessment of growth and development of common beans irrigated with treated wastewater. International Journal of Current Research 10(01), 64460-64464.

Mehta CM, Khunjar WO, Nguyen V, Tait S and Batstone JD. 2015. Technologies to Recover Nutrients from Waste Streams: A Critical Review. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 45, 385-427,

Morse GK, Brett SW, Guy JA, Lester JN. 1998. Review: Phosphorus removal and recovery technologies. The Science of the Total Environment 212, 69-81.

Munch EV, Barr K. 2001. Controlled struvite crystallization for removing phosphorus from anaerobic digester sidestreams. Water Research 35, 151-159.

Nguyen TAH. 2015. Removal and recovery of phosphorus from municipal wastewater by adsorption coupled with crystallization. PhD thesis, University of Technology Sydney, Australia 25.

Nieminen J. 2010. Phosphorus recovery and recycling from municipal wastewater sludge. MSc thesis, Alto University, Finland 12-82.

Ning P, Bart H, Lu X, Zhang Y. 2008. Phosphate removal from wastewater by model La (III) zeolite adsorbents. Journal of Environmental Science 20, 670-674.

Oehmen A, Lemos PC, Carvalho G, Yuan Z, Keller J, Blackall L, Reis MA. 2007. Advances in enhanced biological phosphorus removal: from micro to macro scale. Water research 41, 2271-2300.

Oluwafeyikemi A. 2013. Overview of Phosphorus Recovery and Recycling From Selected Waste Streams – Protecting Phosphorus as a Resource. MSc thesis, Imperial College London, United Kingdom 25-35.

Onyango MS, Kuchar D, Kubota M, Matsuda H. 2007. Adsorptive removal of phosphate ions from aqueous solutions using synthetic zeolite. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 46, 894-900.

Park JH. 2011. Role of organic amendments on enhanced bioremediation of heavy metal (loid) contaminated soils. Journal of Hazardous Materials 185(2-3), 549-574.

Paul D. 2013. Assessing the plant availability of a new phosphorus fertilizer formulation. MSc thesis, University of Natural and Life Sciences, Spain 19-24.

Peleka EN, Deliyanni EA. 2009. Adsorptive removal of phosphates from aqueous solutions. Desalin 245, 357-371.

Petzet S, Cornel P. 2013. Phosphorus Recovery from Wastewater. In: Hester RE, Harrison RM, Ed. Waste as a Resource: Royal Society of Chemistry.

Phillips I. 2002. Phosphorus sorption and nitrogen transformation in two soils treated with piggery wastewater. Australian Journal of Soil Research 40(2), 335-349.

Pritchard D, Penney N, McLaughlin M, Rigby H, Schwarz K. 2010. Land application of sewage sludge (biosolids) in Australia: Risks to the environment and food crops. Water Science and Technology 62(1), 48-57.

Qadir M, Sharma BR, Bruggeman A, Choukr–Allah R, Karajeh F. 2007. Non-conventional water resources and opportunities for water augmentation to achieve food security in water scarce countries. Agricultural Water Management 87, 2-22.

Rittmann BE, Mayer B, Westerhoff P, Edwards M. 2011. Capturing the lost phosphorus. Chemosphere 84(6), 846-853.

Sengupta S, Pandit A. 2011. Selective removal of phosphorus from wastewater combined with its recovery as a solid phase fertilizer. Water Research 45, 3318-3330.

Stratful I, Scrimshaw MD, Lester JN. 2001. Conditions influencing the precipitation of magnesium ammonium phosphate. Water Research 35, 4191-4199.

Tchobanoglous G, Abu-Orf M, Bowden G, Pfrang W. 2014. Wastewater Engineering: Treatment and Resource Recovery. New York, USA: Mc Graw-Hill Education, p. 22.

Tchobanoglous G, Burton FL, Stensel HD. 2003. Wastewater Engineering: Treatment, Disposal, and Reuse. New York, USA: McGraw-Hill Inc. p. 1819.

Trinh LT, Duong CC, Van Der Steen P, Lens PN. 2013. Exploring the potential for wastewater reuse in agriculture as a climate change adaptation measure for Can Tho City, Vietnam. Agricultural Water Management 128, 43-54.

Tyagi VK, Lo S. 2013. Sludge: a waste or renewable source for energy and resources recovery. Renewable Sustainable Energy Review 25, 708-728.

WHO. 2006. World Health Report: Working together for health. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO Press, p. 237.

Williams S. 1999. Struvite precipitation in the sludge stream at slough wastewater treatment plant and opportunities for phosphorus recovery. Environmental Technology 20, 743-747.

Zhang J, Shan W, Ge J, Shen Z, Lei Y, Wang W. 2012. Kinetic and equilibrium studies of liquid phase adsorption of phosphate on modified sugarcane bagasse. Journal of Environmental Engineering 138, 252-258.