Technologies to recover nutrients from waste streams: a critical review

Mehta, Chirag M. and Khunjar, Wendell O. and Nguyen, Vivi and Tait, Stephan and Batstone, Damien J. (2015) Technologies to recover nutrients from waste streams: a critical review. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 45. pp. 385-427. ISSN 1064-3389


Technologies to recover nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from waste streams have undergone accelerated development in the past decade, predominantly due to a surge in fertilizer prices and stringent discharge limits on these nutrients. This review provides a critical state of art review of appropriate technologies which identifies research gaps, evaluates current and future potential for application of the respective technologies, and outlines paths and barriers for adoption of the nutrient recovery technologies. The different technologies can be broadly divided into the sequential categories of nutrient accumulation, followed by nutrient release, followed by nutrient extraction. Nutrient accumulation can be achieved via plants, microorganisms (algae and prokaryotic), and physicochemical mechanisms including chemical precipitation, membrane separation, sorption, and binding with magnetic particles. Nutrient release can occur by biochemical (anaerobic digestion and bioleaching) and thermochemical treatment. Nutrient extraction can occur via crystallization, gas-permeable membranes, liquid–gas stripping, and electrodialysis. These technologies were analyzed with respect to waste stream type, the product being recovered, and relative maturity. Recovery of nutrients in a concentrated form (e.g., the inorganic precipitate struvite) is seen as desirable because it would allow a wider range of options for eventual reuse with reduced pathogen risk and improved ease of transportation. Overall, there is a need to further develop technologies for nitrogen and potassium recovery and to integrate accumulation–release–extraction technologies to improve nutrient recovery efficiency. There is a need to apply, demonstrate, and prove the more recent and innovative technologies to move these beyond their current infancy. Lastly, there is a need to investigate and develop agriculture application of the recovered nutrient products. These advancements will reduce waterway and air pollution by redirecting nutrients from waste into recovered nutrient products that provides a long-term sustainable supply of nutrients and helps buffer nutrient price rises in the future.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Date Deposited: 13 May 2019 04:16
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 02:21
Uncontrolled Keywords: nitrogen, nutrient recovery technologies, phosphorus, potassium
Fields of Research : 09 Engineering > 0907 Environmental Engineering > 090703 Environmental Technologies
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/10643389.2013.866621

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