Recovery of phosphorus from wastewater: Saur launches its innovative Extraphore™ process
Saur has developed and patented Extraphore™, an innovative method for recovering phosphorus from wastewater and residual wastewater treatment plant sludge. By recycling this element essential to agriculture, the primary benefit of this process is to protect the natural resource.
An innovation compatible with most existing treatment plants
Although a number of phosphorus recovery processes are currently available in the market, the majority of them are still at the experimental stage or are suitable for only a small number of wastewater treatment plants equipped with biological phosphorus removal and a digester or incinerator. The Extraphore™ solution offered by Saur requires neither a digester nor an incinerator. This fact makes it available to a much broader market: all wastewater treatment plants with biological phosphorus removal processes are potentially suitable, especially those with capacities below 50,000 population equivalent (PE).
Integrated phosphorus management
"The patented Extraphore™ process enables Saur to offer wastewater treatment plant operators a fully integrated management solution for phosphorus", says research engineer Vincent Jauzein. "It covers the full spectrum, from estimating the phosphorus content of wastewater arriving at the plant, right through to exporting phosphorus in the form of hydroxyapatite. The residual sludge produced at the end of the treatment process has a low phosphorus content, making it easier for this material to be spread on agricultural land". Extraphore™ also offers many other benefits:
- automated control to optimise biological phosphorus removal
- lower reagent consumption than physicochemical or traditional biological processes
- lower equipment installation costs
- ease of implementation
- high recovery rate of phosphorus from residual sludge (up to 50%)
Financial and ecological benefits
Extraphore™ delivers both financial and ecological benefits. Currently estimated at 150 million tonnes per year, demand for phosphorus is expected to increase by more than 40% over the next 15 years. This dramatic rise in demand must be seen in the context of a diminishing resource for which production is projected to peak around 2030, and total exhaustion of known reserves is likely by the end of this century. It has therefore become essential - and urgent - to develop long-term solutions that provide more effective recycling of an element key to feeding the world's population. With its Extraphore™ process, Saur is making its contribution to achieving this target.
Key figures for phosphorus:
- 16 billion tonnes of estimated reserves worldwide, of which 30% are in Morocco and Western Sahara
- 150 million tonnes mined every year
- 90% of the phosphorus produced is used in agriculture (as fertiliser) and animal feed
- 40% increasing annual demand by 2030
- 975,000 tonnes per year consumed in Europe, 92% of which is imported
- 20% of demand could be met by phosphorus recovered from wastewater