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The recovery of phosphorus from secondary sources like sewage sludge is essential in a world suffering from resources depletion. Recent studies have demonstrated that phosphorus can be magnetically recovered as vivianite (Fe(II)3(PO4)2*8H2O) from the digested sludge (DS) of Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP) dosing iron. To study the production of vivianite in digested sludge, the quantity of Fe dosed at the WWTP of Nieuwveer (The Netherlands) was increased (from 0.83 to 1.53 kg Fe/kg P in the influent), and the possible benefits for the functioning of the WWTP were evaluated. Higher Fe dosing is not only relevant for P-recovery, but also for maximal recovery of organics from influent for e.g. biogas production. The share of phosphorus present as vivianite in the DS increased from 20% to 50% after the increase in Fe dosing, making more phosphorus available for future magnetic recovery. This increase was directly proportional to the increase of Fe in DS, suggesting that vivianite could be favored not only thermodynamically, but also kinetically. Interestingly, analyses suggest that several types of vivianite are formed in the WWTP, and could differ in their purity, oxidation state or crystallinity. These differences could have an impact on the subsequent magnetic separation. Following the Fe dosing increase, P in the effluent and H2S in the biogas both decreased: 1.28 to 0.42 ppm for P and 26 to 8 ppm for H2S. No negative impact on the nitrogen removal, biogas production, COD removal or dewaterability was observed. Since quantification of vivianite in DS is complicated, previous studies were reviewed and we proposed a more accurate Mössbauer spectroscopy analysis and fitting for sludge samples. This study is important from a P recovery point of view, but also because iron addition can play a crucial role in future resource recovery wastewater facilities.
Iron is an important element for modern sewage treatment, inter alia to remove phosphorus from sewage. However, phosphorus recovery from iron phosphorus containing sewage sludge, without incineration, is not yet economical. We believe, increasing the knowledge about iron-phosphorus speciation in sewage sludge can help to identify new routes for phosphorus recovery. Surplus and digested sludge of two sewage treatment plants was investigated. The plants relied either solely on iron based phosphorus removal or on biological phosphorus removal supported by iron dosing. Mössbauer spectroscopy showed that vivianite and pyrite were the dominating iron compounds in the surplus and anaerobically digested sludge solids in both plants. Mössbauer spectroscopy and XRD suggested that vivianite bound phosphorus made up between 10 and 30% (in the plant relying mainly on biological removal) and between 40 and 50% of total phosphorus (in the plant that relies on iron based phosphorus removal). Furthermore, Mössbauer spectroscopy indicated that none of the samples contained a significant amount of Fe(III), even though aerated treatment stages existed and although besides Fe(II) also Fe(III) was dosed. We hypothesize that chemical/microbial Fe(III) reduction in the treatment lines is relatively quick and triggers vivianite formation. Once formed, vivianite may endure oxygenated treatment zones due to slow oxidation kinetics and due to oxygen diffusion limitations into sludge flocs. These results indicate that vivianite is the major iron phosphorus compound in sewage treatment plants with moderate iron dosing. We hypothesize that vivianite is dominating in most plants where iron is dosed for phosphorus removal which could offer new routes for phosphorus recovery.
To prevent eutrophication of surface water, phosphate needs to be removed from sewage. Iron (Fe) dosing is commonly used to achieve this goal either as the main strategy or in support of biological removal. Vivianite (Fe(II) 3 (PO 4 ) 2 * 8H 2 O) plays a crucial role in capturing the phosphate, and if enough iron is present in the sludge after anaerobic digestion, 70–90% of total phosphorus (P) can be bound in vivianite. Based on its paramagnetism and inspired by technologies used in the mining industry, a magnetic separation procedure has been developed. Two digested sludges from sewage treatment plants using Chemical Phosphorus Removal were processed with a lab-scale Jones magnetic separator with an emphasis on the characterization of the recovered vivianite and the P-rich caustic solution. The recovered fractions were analyzed with various analytical techniques (e.g., ICP-OES, TG-DSC-MS, XRD and Mössbauer spectroscopy). The magnetic separation showed a concentration factor for phosphorus and iron of 2–3. The separated fractions consist of 52–62% of vivianite, 20% of organic matter, less than 10% of quartz and a small quantity of siderite. More than 80% of the P in the recovered vivianite mixture can be released and thus recovered via an alkaline treatment while the resulting iron oxide has the potential to be reused. Moreover, the trace elements in the P-rich caustic solution meet the future legislation for recovered phosphorus salts and are comparable to the usual content in Phosphate rock. The efficiency of the magnetic separation and the advantages of its implementation in WWTP are also discussed in this paper.