Phosphorus removal from agricultural wastewater streams is an important aspect of managing surface water quality, due to the contribution of phosphorus to eutrophication. Removal of phosphorus through struvite precipitation allows for its recovery as a potential fertilizer, and by determining the best conditions for struvite precipitation the removal process can be optimized. The effects of pH, Mg:P ratio, and time on struvite precipitation from anaerobically digested swine manure effluent were investigated. Effluent with Mg:P ratios from 1.0:1 to 1.6:1 were adjusted to pH values between 7.5 and 9.5 and left to equilibrate for 24 h. Results indicate that phosphorus removal increased with increasing pH and Mg:P ratio; the maximum phosphorus removal achieved was 80% at pH 9.0 and a Mg:P ratio of 1.6:1. The purest struvite precipitate was found at pH 7.5, with calcium carbonate and struvite precipitating at higher pH values. A continuously stirred batch of centrate was adjusted to pH 8.4 to determine the struvite formation rate constant. The rate constant was found to be 1.55 h−1, with 17% phosphorus removal during the first 20 min. The results indicate that struvite precipitation could be a viable method of phosphorus removal from anaerobically digested swine manure.
Keywords: phosphorus removal, precipitation, struvite, swine effluent