Water utility company Gelsenwasser AG has signed an agreement to recover phosphorus from incinerated sewage sludge in the ChemPark of Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany.
Scheduled to open in 2023, the feasibility study will cover the treatment of 60,000 tonnes of ash per year with the ambition to recover more than 90 percent of phosphorus using Ash2Phos technology from EasyMining, a subsidiary of the Swedish environmental company Ragn-Sells.
One of the key drivers behind the technology partnership was a German law introduced in 2017, with the Swedish government also observing and considering similar legislation.
Phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge has been made mandatory for wastewater treatment facilities serving 50,000 people or above. Cities have until 2023 to decide which technology they will implement to meet the demands.
Dr. Dirk Waider, chief technical officer at Gelsenwasser, said: “By cooperating, Ragn-Sells and Gelsenwasser can take advantage of the latest development and use a resource efficient technology to recover a scarce substance. The project is an example of how working together yields sustainable, circular solutions for urban environments. It fits perfectly in the resource-saving strategy throughout all our operating fields.”
Lars Lindén, CEO of Ragn-Sells Group, said that Germany is the “most ambitious state in Europe concerning phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge”.
He added: “More countries will follow the German example and demand innovative solutions to make use of the resources in their waste.”
The European Union has phosphorus on its list of 27 so-called Critical Raw Materials (CRM).
Dr. Christian Kabbe, managing director of Isle Utilities Germany, believes the cooperation agreement marks the new stage of activities towards real life implementation of phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge ashes.
He said: “Dedicated sewage sludge incineration will be the main valorization route for municipal sewage sludge in Germany in the future, clearly favoured by the new regulations entered into force last year.“
Kabbe added: “To comply with the new sewage sludge regulation, Germany needs to double the exclusive sludge incineration in the coming years and then of course needs to take care for the phosphorus recovery from the resulting ashes.“