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EFW

Innovative wastewater treatment solves phosphate shortage, sustainably 

REMONDIS Aktuell // 3 September 2020

1

Pure phosphoric acid recovered from wastewater plants is marketed as RePacid®.

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Phosphorus recycling from annual sewage in Germany corresponds to a CO2 footprint of 27 million trees

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REMONDIS’ TetraPhos® process also recovers other raw materials for industrial use

Innovation in phosphorous recovery

Europe has traditionally been dependent on phosphorus importation – vulnerable to contamination with heavy metals and uranium. 

But let's be honest. If you had to list some particularly essential resources off the cuff, would phosphorus be one of them?

Probably not.

And yet phosphorus is the most important element when it comes to energy metabolism for all living organisms. That's because phosphorus is also a vital element for plant growth and is used for fertilisation, for example.

The fact that this particular vital substance is so scarce on our planet makes it all the more problematic. Europe depends almost entirely on phosphate imports and the raw material is increasingly showing signs of contamination.

At the same time, resources are becoming scarce.

Phosphorus gets into our daily food through plants and farm animals. It's practically all around us, even at the breakfast table. After it's consumed, that's not the end of it. It gets into our wastewater by natural means.

Today, wastewater plants are more than just disposal plants.

They are plants for recovering clean water, energy and minerals. This is where valuable raw materials, including phosphorus, enter the sewage sludge.

The direct use of sewage sludge as fertiliser which was previously possible, is being prevented by new Environmental Protection quality standards because, apart from containing valuable phosphorus, it also contains harmful heavy metals and organic pollutants.

But what could otherwise be done with it?

Many local authorities already no longer know what to do with several thousand tons a year. The first step is usually incineration, but that's not the most advanced solution. Valuable resources are not recovered during incineration. Instead, cycles need to be closed as far as possible and all valuable raw materials recovered.

This is where the REMONDIS TetraPhos® process comes in. From 2029 the law covering municipal sewage sludge requires recovery of the finite raw material phosphorus.

With the REMONDIS TetraPhos process, this is already economically viable today.      


RePacid® and TetraPhos®

The chemical physical process enables several raw materials to be fully returned into the cycle: phosphorus as a vital resource, gypsum which is used in the building materials industry and iron and aluminum salts for wastewater treatment in sewage treatment plants, and minerals for cement production.

The main product, however, is the phosphoric acid itself, and this is marketed under the brand name RePacid®.

The RePacid phosphoric acid recovered is so pure that its quality is higher than the raw material from natural sources.

Not only fertiliser and food are produced from phosphoric acid but also animal feed and anti corrosion agents. In addition, it is free of heavy metals and pollutants that are often present in phosphate imports.

RePacid can be sold on the market and used without any additional processing, as already mentioned as fertiliser for example. Every drop of our high purity RePacid phosphoric acid thus also contributes to the responsible use of precious and limited resources.

The REMONDIS TetraPhos process therefore closes the gap for a stainable material cycle.

For those who already see it as an obligation, here are a few more arguments. Phosphoric acid, gypsum, metal salts and minerals preserve natural resources.

100% phosphorus recycling from the annual sewage sludge produced in Germany corresponds to a CO2 footprint of 27 million trees. Thanks to the TetraPhos process, the products obtained from it achieve economic efficiency, which does not burden the budget of municipalities.

Sustainable action that brings financial rewards – an unbeatable combination.

The safe separation of valuable than harmful materials, enables heavy metals to be bound professionally and safely without impairing the quality of the phosphoric acid.

In Germany, phosphorus from municipal sewage sludge must be recycled from 2029. Our phosphorus recycling plants already comply with the regulations, which will come into force, thus ensuring our future proof investment.

REMONDIS TetraPhos – truly working for the future.


For more information about REMONDIS Aqua’s TetraPhos process, visit https://www.remondis-aqua.com/en/aq/innovations/recovering-phosphorus/


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