Phosphorous recovery from sewage sludge ash suspended in water in a two-compartment electrodialytic cell

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    Phosphorus (P) is indispensable for all forms of life on Earth and as P is a finite resource, it is highly important to increase recovery of P from secondary resources. This investigation is focused on P recovery from sewage sludge ash (SSA) by a two-compartment electrodialytic separation (EDS) technique. Two SSAs are included in the investigation and they contained slightly less P than phosphate rock used in commercial fertilizer production and more heavy metals. The two-compartment electrodialytic technique enabled simultaneous recovery of P and separation of heavy metals. During EDS the SSA was suspended in water in the anolyte, which was separated from the catholyte by a cation exchange membrane. Electrolysis at the anode acidified the SSA suspension, and hereby P, Cu, Pb, Cd and Zn were extracted. The heavy metal ions electromigrated into the catholyte and were thus separated from the filtrate with P. More than 95% P was extracted from both SSAs. The charge transfer to obtain this varied when treating the two SSAs, and for one ash it was about 30% higher than for the other as a result of a higher buffering capacity against acidification. The repeatability of EDS results between experiments with the same SSA and the same experimental conditions was good, which shows that the process is easy to control at the studied laboratory conditions. About 80% P and 10% of the heavy metals remained in the filtrate from the anolyte after treatment of both SSAs. The heavy metal content relative to P in the filtrate by far meet the limiting values for use of industrial wastes as fertilizers, thus the filtrate is ready for direct processing into P-fertilizer.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWaste Management
    Pages (from-to)142-148
    Number of pages7
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Electrodialysis
    • Heavy metals
    • Phosphorous
    • Recovery
    • Sewage sludge ash


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