Phosphorus recovery from septage treatment plant sludge by struvite formation with alkaline hydrolysis as pre-treatment


Gokongwei College of Engineering


Chemical Engineering

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Source Title

IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering





Publication Date



Insufficiency of phosphorus due to the limited availability of phosphate rocks is predicted within the next decades. Phosphorus recovery from wastewater sludge was found to be one of the possible alternative sources of phosphorus. Moreover, stringent effluent standards, including that of phosphorus levels, have been newly implemented in the Philippines. Due to these factors, phosphorus recovery from wastewater in Philippine settings was deemed as an important topic to be further studied. In this paper, the feasibility of recovering phosphorus from septage sludge in Metro Manila by the precipitation of struvite crystals was studied. Septage sludge is seen as one of the potential sources and was characterized in terms of the concentration of Mg2+, Ca2+, NH4+ and PO4-3 ions. In the lab-scale experiments conducted, alkaline hydrolysis using sodium hydroxide was performed as a sludge pretreatment before the precipitation proper. Alkaline hydrolysis was done to release the remaining PO4-3 ions from the solids present in the sludge, thereby promoting precipitation after hydrolysis without the need for additional phosphate source. Furthermore, alkaline hydrolysis can effectively release phosphorus without inducing the dissolution of interfering ions such as Ca2+ and other heavy metals. Results show that PO4-3 ions increased by 267.37 mg/L and the total amount of phosphate ions increased from 17.05% to 46.88%, showing the effectivity of the hydrolysis. For the precipitation of struvite, three parameters were controlled: pH, residence time, and Mg:P ratio. After precipitation, the phosphorus recovery efficiency for the runs were each evaluated and analyzed in order to determine the effects of the parameters on phosphorus recovery. The precipitate of the run with the highest phosphorus recovery obtained was then evaluated using XRD analysis. It was found that the sample with the highest phosphorus recovery is 53.12%, which was achieved at pH 9, a residence time of 1 hour, and an Mg:P ratio of 1.5:1. Therefore, it can be concluded that precipitation subjected at pH 9 has the highest potential for higher phosphorus recovery. Further, the residence time has a minimal effect on phosphorus recovery and higher phosphorus recovery can be achieved at a higher Mg:P ratio with increasing potential for struvite recovery. © 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.


Digitial Object Identifier (DOI)



Chemical Engineering


Phosphorus; Water—Phosphorus content

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