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Science of the Total Environment

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Current and future trends indicate that mining of natural phosphorus (P) reserves is occurring faster than natural geologic replenishment. This mobilization has not only led to P supply concerns, but has also polluted many of the world's freshwater bodies and oceans. Recovery and reuse of this nuisance P offers a long-term solution simultaneously addressing mineral P accessibility and P-based pollution. Available physical, chemical, and biological P removal/recovery processes can achieve low total P (TP) concentrations (≤100 μg/L) and some processes can also recover P for direct reuse as fertilizers (e.g., struvite). However, as shown by our meta-analysis of over 20,000 data points on P quantity and P form, the P in water matrices is not always present in the reactive P (RP) form that is most amenable to recovery for direct reuse. Thus, strategies for removing and recovering other P fractions in water/wastewater are essential to provide environmental protection via P removal and also advance the circular P economy via P recovery. Specifically, conversion of non-reactive P (NRP) to the more readily removable/recoverable RP form may offer a feasible approach; however, extremely limited data on such applications currently exist. This review investigates the role of NRP in various water matrices; identifies NRP conversion mechanisms; and evaluates biological, physical, thermal, and chemical processes with potential to enhance P removal and recovery by converting the NRP to RP. This information provides critical insights into future research needs and technology advancements to enhance P removal and recovery.


Accepted version. Science of the Total Environment, Vol. 644 (December 10, 2018): 661-674. DOI. © 2018 Elsevier B.V. Used with permission.