Valorisation of Phosphorus Extracted from Dairy Cattle Slurry and Municipal Solid Wastes Digestates as a Fertilizer

V. Oliveira, Lisbeth M. Ottosen, J. Labrincha, C. Dias-Ferreira

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Phosphorus is a vital cell component and an essential and irreplaceable element. Yet at the current rate of exploitation, the phosphate’s reserves will be fast depleted. Dairy cattle slurry and digestates from anaerobic digestion of municipal solid wastes (MSW) are organic wastes containing phosphorus which can potentially be used as a secondary source of this nutrient. The present study investigated the effect of pH in phosphorus release from these wastes using acid and base extraction followed by phosphorus recovery via precipitation, targeting the production of a fertilizer. Results showed that when using HNO3, 100 % of P content was extracted from dairy cattle slurry (2.0\pH\3.3) and 90 % from MSW digestates (1.2\pH\1.5). The maximum extraction was obtained after 2.5 h for dairy cattle slurry and 48 h for MSW digestates. The extraction efficiencies using NaOH were only 22 % for dairy cattle slurry (12.9\pH\13.4) and 9 % for MWS digestates (13.0\pH\13.4). Phosphorus precipitation from extracted solutions was carried out at a molar ratio of 1:1:1 for Mg:N:P and at pH around 8.0. Analysis of the harvested precipitates by XRD and SEM–EDS ruled out the formation of struvite, but validated the formation of amorphous calcium phosphates, a potential fertilizer that can help to close the cycle of this nutrient. During the process, heavy metals might become enriched in the precipitates. In the perspective of producing a fertilizer this is an undesirable process, and one that should be taken into account when considering phosphorus recovery from wastes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste and Biomass Valorization
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)861–869
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Phosphorus recovery
  • Struvite
  • Calcium phosphate
  • Dairy cattle
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Municipal solid waste incineration fly ashes


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