Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Agricultural phosphorus recovery

19.11.2013
Phosphorus is an important plant nutrient for agriculture; however, phosphate rock reserves are limited.

In the EU-funded PhosFarm project, research and SME partners aim to make organic phosphorus from agricultural residues accessible as a resource for phosphate fertiliser salts. Using immobilised enzymes, organic phosphorus compounds are released from the organic matter and recovered as phosphate.


In the PhosFarm project valuable soil improver and mineral fertiliser salt products are recovered from agricultural residues.

© Fraunhofer IGB

Phosphorus is an elemental nutrient in agriculture. In response to the increasing demand for phosphorus in the food, biofuels and biobased materials industries, global consumption of phosphate has risen significantly and will continue to increase.

In 2008, approximately 1.4 million tonnes of phosphorus were consumed for the production of synthetic phosphate fertilizer. Moreover, phosphate rock reserves are non-renewable and controlled by only a few countries such as China, Morocco, Tunisia and the U.S.A. As a result, Europe is completely dependent on imports from these countries to cover phosphorus demand.

Besides non-renewable reserves, alternative phosphate resources include municipal wastewater and agricultural organic residues such as livestock manure or digestate from biogas plants. Although new technologies have already been developed for the recovery of dissolved inorganic phosphates in the liquid fractions of municipal and agricultural wastes, solid residues remain a largely untapped source for phosphorus in its organic form. In solid fractions, organic phosphorus bound in biochemical molecules such as phospholipids, nucleotides and nucleic acids offer a bountiful source of phosphorus.

These agricultural residues represent a huge additional reservoir for phosphate recovery: Annually, more than 1,800 million tonnes of manure are generated in the EU and the amount of digestion residues is still increasing. Especially in swine and poultry manure, up to 50 per cent of the overall phosphorus is present in the organic form. In the PhosFarm project, this organic residual matter is to be made accessible as a valuable phosphate resource. The project consortium coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB wants to develop a process and realise a pilot plant that features a controlled enzymatic release of organically bound phosphate, enabling up to 90 per cent recovery of total phosphorus.

This novel strategy is to be carried out using phosphate hydrolysing enzymes immobilised onto suited carriers. “In preliminary experiments, we could show that these enzymes can release inorganic phosphate from model compounds,” explains Jennifer Bilbao, who manages the project at the Fraunhofer IGB. After separation of the solid fraction, the released phosphate dissolved in the liquid fraction can be precipitated as magnesium ammonium phosphate and calcium phosphate, which in turn are directly usable as high value fertilising salts.

The remaining dewatered solid phase is dried with an energy efficient drying process operating with superheated steam instead of hot air. The generated organic soil amendment substrate helps to improve soil fertility. Moreover, according to the requirements of crop species and depending on the soil conditions, the organic soil improvers can be mixed with the recovered mineral fertiliser salts to a suited nutrient composition with a defined N/P ratio.

Bilbao describes the advantages of the envisioned concept: “With our mineral fertiliser salt and organic soil improver products, synthetic phosphate fertilisers are saved and overfertilisation from the application of livestock manure on the agricultural fields is prevented. This realisation of efficient phosphorus recovery not only generates valuable products from an otherwise wasted residue, but at the same time achieves environmentally friendly closed loop recycling.

Since September 2013, “PhosFarm – Process for sustainable phosphorus recovery from agricultural residues by enzymatic process to enable a service business for the benefit of European farm community” – has been funded within the scope of the 7th Framework Research Programme of the EU (Grant Agreement No. 605771). The project partners, besides the Fraunhofer IGB, are research partners VITO (Belgium) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU, Sweden), as well as the SMEs Chiral Vision (Netherlands), Geltz Umwelttechnologie GmbH (Germany), Heckmann Maschinenbau und Verfahrenstechnik GmbH (Germany), Purines Almazan, S.L. (Spain), Agroenergie Hohenlohe GmbH (Germany), ASB Grünland Helmut Aurenz GmbH (Germany) and Servimed Almazan, S.L. (Spain).

Dr. Claudia Vorbeck | Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information:
http://www.igb.fraunhofer.de
http://www.igb.fraunhofer.de/en/press-media/press-releases/2013/phosfarm-agricultural-phosphorus-recovery.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>