Nutrient recovery technology attracts €1 million EU investment

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Technology invented in Denmark that enables wastewater treatment plants to exploit fertiliser by accumulating ammonium has received EU funding to the tune of €1 million.

Called NUTREC, the system has been patented and a pilot system is in use at the Mariagerfjord Vand wastewater treatment plant in Hobro, Denmark.

The €1 million grant from the EU will be used to ”fine-tune” the plant in order to optimise reliability and efficiency.

The process works whereby magnesium phosphate is added to form magnesium ammonium phosphate. This is then heated up, and the vapour is collected. Next vapour and nitrogen are blown into a water tank, in which nitrogen is collected that can be used as a fertiliser.

Expected to be marketed as soon as 2014 under the name GAAR 15 from GreenAqua Solutions. The project’s other seven partners include: OHT Group ApS, Bioazul, Simbiente, Geltz Umwelt-Technologie, The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture, Fraunhofer and Mariagerfjord Vand a|s.

This month, a team of scientists from German research institute Fraunhofer and The Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture as well as partners from Germany, Portugal and Spain are gathered in the town of Hobro in Denmark where future research and development of the project is discussed. The visit also included a demonstration of a full scale pilot system. 

Nutrient recovery technology attracts €1 million EU investment

Inventor Karsten Poulsen (pictured above) patented his method for biologically separating ammonium from wastewater 15 years ago. Recently he developed a method whereby the ammonium can be collected instead of released as nitrogen.

Poulsen said: “Approx 8 kWh of electricity is used per kg of separated ammonium in a traditional wastewater treatment system with a biogas plant for cleaning the wastewater. With our system, 0.7 kWh per kg separated ammonium is used which means that we can save more than 7 kWh per kg ammonium. 1 kg of nitrogen collected from the air uses approx 10 kWh. 1 kg of nitrogen collected by using our system costs 0.7 kWh which means that the system is approx 25 times more cost effective.”

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Denmark follows UK’s lead with phosphorus recycling facility                                                                                                    A project that has set out to test technologies for the extraction of phosphorus from wastewater has been opened in Denmark. The project at Åby treatment plant in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city, could be developed to extract 60% of phosphorus from the wastewater processed.

The Big Question: What operational benefits and political motivation could help persuade utilities to install nutrient recovery systems?                                                                                                                                                                         WWi's technology comparison series continues with the topic of nutrient recovery solutions. With excess nutrients leading to Harmful algae blooms (HABs) and eutrophication, ultimately affecting utilities is now is the time for the adoption in modern technologies…

Nutrient Recovery: Waste not, Want not                                                                                                                                      U.S. and Canadian firms are at the forefront of changing perceptions of wastewater not being viewed as something to dispose of, but a valuable resource. Jeremy Josephs speaks to Veolia Water subsidiary Kruger and Ostara about nutrient recovery progress in North America…

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