With the increasing focus on improving sustainability and moving towards a circular economy, the issue of recovering phosphorus from wastewater was the topic of discussion on the third webinar in the digital series on climate action hosted by CIWEM Republic of Ireland.
Veolia’s Tom O’Reilly was the CIWEM ROI Branch member responsible for assembling the speakers and organising the CIWEM webinar in conjunction with CIWEM HQ London.
Speakers included Dara White, Irish Water; Dr. Patrick Forrestal, Teagasc; Matt Kuzma, Ostara and Romain Lemaire from Veolia's Technical Department Paris.
There are a number of existing technologies available to help sustainably recover and reuse phosphorus from wastewater sludge and attendees heard about the viability of using these to create a fertiliser to replace chemical based fertilisers in agriculture.
Replacing reliance on imported chemical fertiliser
62.8% of Irish agricultural land has agronomically suboptimal P (Phosphorous) levels according to Dr. Patrick Forrestal from Teagasc. 43,000t of imported P fertilisers are annually applied to Irish agricultural land with 95,500t of P required annually to sustain crop production and build soil P. Ireland produces only 30% of its P requirements from indigenous sources.
Teagasc is working to replace agricultures’ reliance on imported chemical produced fertiliser with new bio-based recycled fertilisers such as phosphorus and nitrogen recovered from wastewater.
The proprietary Activated Granular Sludge process Nereda is being utilised in the upgrade of the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant according to Dara White of Irish Water. Apart from the capex and opex advantages of the Nereda process, it is also caters for biological Phosphorus removal and is key to Irish Water’s strategy to recover phosphorus from the wastewater as struvite on the Ringsend site to produce a commercially viable product and enhance a zero waste strategy.
Innovative emerging process technologies from Veolia
New and innovative emerging process technologies and smart operating systems can allow for biological P recovery from wastewater. Romain Lemaire, from Veolia’s Technical Department in Paris, explained how Veolia is pilot testing new process technologies such as BioP Sidestream, BioP BAF, BioP MBBR and BioP MBBR in SBR mode.
Romain also highlighted the benefits of using Veolia’s patented SMART BioP via HUBGRADE to optimise phosphorus removal on operational wastewater treatment plants with the advantage of SMART BioP being adaptable to all new and existing activated sludge plant designs.
CrystalGreen Phosphate fertiliser
Matt Kuzma of Ostara focused on the Ostara PEARL® process being installed in Ringsend WWTP in conjunction with the Murphy Group. The Ostara PEARL® process for Ringsend WWTP is capable of producing 4,115t per annum of CrystalGreen Phosphate fertiliser which can then be sold to farmers.