LONDON and VANCOUVER, BC - Thames Water and Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies announced today they will incorporate a new technology at Slough Sewage Treatment Works to recover phosphorus and ammonia from its wastewater stream and transform them into an environmentally-friendly, premium-quality commercial fertiliser.
Ostara's technology helps sewage treatment works cost-effectively meet environmental regulations (nutrient limits), while producing a fertiliser that releases slowly and eliminates run-off. The fertiliser, called Crystal Green®, is currently being sold in North America, and recent approvals by the Environment Agency have ensured that Crystal Green® can now be sold as a premium-quality fertilizer product in the UK.
Phosphorus is the key ingredient in fertilisers used to grow the world's food supply, and Thames Water will be the first in the UK to extract this precious nutrient from wastewater. Mining phosphorus from a sustainable resource is an important and timely environmental initiative given that phosphorus reserves in North America, Russia, China and Morocco are dwindling, and the extraction of the nutrient from these rock reserves is highly carbon-intensive.
Piers Clark, Asset Management Director, Thames Water; Phillip Abrary, President and CEO, Ostara; and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Ostara board member, environmental advocate and attorney, were at Slough Sewage Works today to commemorate the partnership.
Mr. Kennedy, a partner in Ostara investor VantagePoint Venture Partners, said: 'This partnership between Thames Water and Ostara provides a cost-effective solution that benefits the environment at all stages, and truly exhibits the shift that we are seeing towards closed-loop sustainable technologies.'
A Win-Win Partnership
The project at Thames Water's Slough Sewage Works marks a unique public/private partnership where Ostara will design, build and finance the nutrient recovery facility, which is expected to be completed in mid-2011. Thames Water has agreed to pay a monthly fee for treatment capacity provided by the Ostara system, which is less than what is currently required to deal with costly maintenance resulting from the damaging build-up of struvite in pipes and valves.
If left untreated, struvite settles as scale on the inside of sewage pipes, increasing maintenance costs, and in some cases, blocking the pipes completely. This project will help Slough efficiently meet nutrient limits, reduce operational costs and optimize the plant's efficiency, and immediately save Thames Water £130,000 to £200,000 a year in chemical costs.
These nutrient recovery benefits will be provided without Thames Water having to make any capital investment in the system. Ostara's Nutrient Recovery Facility at Slough is estimated to yield 150 tonnes a year of Crystal Green fertiliser. Thames Water will receive revenue for the production and sale of Crystal Green, further enhancing the economics of the partnership. Crystal Green® is the only slow-release fertiliser with a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium. Unlike most fertilisers, Crystal Green® dissolves slowly over a six- to nine-month period, and therefore is environmentally safe because it does not leach into the environment.
From Pilot to Commercial Facility
A pilot-scale Nutrient Recovery Facility at Thames Water's Slough Sewage Treatment Works began operating in March 2010 to demonstrate the technology's potential to support efficient operation of the plant's biological phosphorus removal process, and to assess the viability of a full-scale implementation. Slough Sewage Works was one of the UK's first biological phosphorus removal plants, commissioned in 1993.