P-REX: Sustainable Sewage Sludge Management Promoting Phosphorus Recycling and Energy Efficiency

Phosphorus is essential for biological processes and cannot be substituted by any other substance. The world’s population growth on the one hand and the limited reserves on the other hand lead to a steadily increasing demand on phosphorus, so ways and means have to be contrived to ensure a most efficient use of this limited resource and to keep it in its natural circle.

Besides the raw phosphate from conventional underground mines which is of declining quality due to increasing heavy metal pollution, there are promising phosphate deposits in different types of waste and wastewater which have not been exploited so far. During the past years, numerous methods have been developed in order to utilise these reserves, but only a few of them have been transferred into large scale applications up to now. The EU funded project P-Rex is supposed to be milestone towards the goal of a P recycling rate of 80% throughout Europe.

Based on real operation data, the project is expected to deliver a systematic analysis of different approaches for the first time, starting with the technical phosphorus recycling from ashes produced in mono-incineration up to the conventional use of sewage sludge in agriculture. The methods considered will be evaluated taking account both economic and ecological aspects.

Besides the analysis of existing market barriers related to the implementation of phosphorus recycling, strategies will be developed to overcome these obstacles. A comprehensive and systematic product analysis will reveal the fertilising effects of the recycling products and their eco-toxicological impact.

In close cooperation with the national and European standardization bodies, effect based biological tests shall be identified and tested in terms of their practicability for monitoring routines.

The EU-funded project P-REX has been finalised.


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