Modelling and dynamic simulation of struvite precipitation from source-separated urine

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A model of a mixed-mode nutrient recovery reactor is developed for a urine feed, incorporating complex solution thermodynamics, dynamic conservation relations and a power-law kinetic expression for crystal growth from seed crystals. Simulations at nominal operating conditions predict phosphorus recoveries greater than 99%, based on existing process kinetic parameters and operating conditions employed in previously published studies. The overall rate of nutrient recovery depends on the saturation index of the precipitating solid, the available surface area for mass transfer and the feed rate of the limiting constituent ion. Under the conditions considered, the nutrient feed rate appears to be the limiting factor for precipitation. Simulations demonstrate that diurnal feed flow variations of ±50% have a small effect on the rate of nutrient recovery. Overall, the study shows that valuable insights are gained in relation to process performance predictions, which should lead to more confident process design, operation and control.

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