Energy and phosphorus recovery from black water

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Source-separated black water (BW) (toilet water) containing 38% of the organic material and 68% of the phosphorus in the total household waste (water) stream including kitchen waste, is a potential source for energy and phosphorus recovery. The energy recovered, in the form of electricity and heat, is more than sufficient for anaerobic treatment, nitrogen removal and phosphorus recovery. The phosphorus balance of an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor treating concentrated BW showed a phosphorus conservation of 61% in the anaerobic effluent. Precipitation of phosphate as struvite from this stream resulted in a recovery of 0.22 kgP/p/y, representing 10% of the artificial phosphorus fertiliser production in the world. The remaining part of the phosphorus ended up in the anaerobic sludge, mainly due to precipitation (39%). Low dilution and a high pH favour the accumulation of phosphorus in the anaerobic sludge and this sludge could be used as a phosphorus-enriched organic fertiliser, provided that it is safe regarding heavy metals, pathogens and micro-pollutants.

Keywords: anaerobic treatment, biogas production, black water, phosphorus recovery, separation at source, struvite

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