Phosphorus recovery and reuse from waste streams

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Journal Article
Advances in Agronomy, 2015, 131 pp. 173 - 250
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© 2015 Elsevier Inc. Phosphorus (P) is a macronutrient essential for all living organisms. Regrettably, it is a finite resource since phosphate rock (PR) is the main material used for production of P fertilizers. Globally, the demand for quality PR is escalating due to many factors including increasing human population. Inevitably, the demand for PR will exceed its supply capacity. This condition will be very difficult to manage as living systems have no alternative for P. Moreover, P use efficiency is low; only 15-20% of applied P is used by crops and animals. Globally, the remaining P is shunted into various waste streams. These waste streams include large quantities of effluents rich in P from both municipal and industrial wastewater treatment systems and manure from livestock production. The P present in these waste streams poses a threat to the environment by nutrient enrichment resulting in serious ecological issues such as eutrophication of waterways. However, P in these waste streams, if economically recovered, can contribute to a sustainable management of P resources. This review covers the following aspects: global importance of P as an essential nutrient; efficient and sustainable utilization of P; waste stream production, their suitability for P recovery, and limitations; current and emerging technologies for recovery of P; and the use of recovered P material. Finally, future research needs are identified associated with P recovery from waste streams and reuse in agriculture.
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