January 13, 2017

New Aalto method wastes no water for fertiliser

Pilot equipment to be used for new Aalto method of recycling nutrients in waste water will be constructed in spring 2017 at university laboratory.
Pilot equipment to be used for new Aalto method of recycling nutrients in waste water will be constructed in spring 2017 at university laboratory.
Lasse Lecklin

Finnish researchers have developed a new method in which to separate nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater and use them for fertiliser production, while keeping their harmful nutrients from ending up in the Baltic Sea.

The new method developed at Aalto University can separate up to 99 per cent of the nitrogen and 90–99 per cent of phosphorus found in waste water and turn them into suitable components for fertiliser production.

“There are many different methods for removing nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater, but none of them meets the need of capturing their nutrients,” says Riku Vahala, professor of water and wastewater engineering at Aalto University.

By increasing the efficiency of nutrient capture, the new method could reduce costs of wastewater treatment, reduce nutrient loads in the Baltic Sea and make fertiliser production much more energy efficient.

“It is estimated that the industrial production of nitrogen used for fertilisers is responsible for approximately 2 per cent of the entire world’s energy consumption,” Vahala points out.

Aalto University was granted 457 500 euros for their project from the Raki2 2016–2019 programme in November 2016. The Raki programme is a governmental spearhead project that promotes nutrient recycling and reduction of nutrient loads in the Baltic Sea.

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