Phosphorus (P) discharge to surface water is a major environmental problem. Wastewater treatment is targeted towards removal of this nutrient to prevent degradation of surface water. Integrated membrane systems (IMS) are increasingly being considered for wastewater reclamation, and provide excellent removal of P compounds. However, reverse osmosis (RO), which forms an integral part of these IMSs, concentrates most dissolved substances including P-species such as phosphates in the RO waste stream. In this study, removal of phosphate from this stream using polymeric ligand exchange (PLE) resins was investigated. Further, the possibility of phosphate recovery through struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) precipitation was tested. Struvite has been promoted as a slow release fertilizer in recent years. This study demonstrates that PLEs can be successfully used to remove phosphate from RO-concentrate, and to recover more than 85% of the adsorbed phosphorus from the exhausted media and precipitated as a beneficial product (struvite). The approach, presented in this study, suggests advantages of providing economic benefit from a waste product (RO) while avoiding phosphorus discharge to the environment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecological Modeling
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal