Nutrient-recovery reactor creates sustainable fertiliser

Nov 6, 2013

Engineering and Technology Magazine

Experts claim a new £2m sewage treatment facility providing a sustainable source of environmentally-friendly fertiliser could help secure future global food supplies.

Thames Water has created the nutrient-recovery reactor, the first of its kind in Europe, to produce sanitised phosphorous-based fertiliser from the “unique” waste water coming out of the industrialised area surrounding Slough in Berkshire.

The company says the high-strength organic waste coming from the Slough Trading Estate is rich in the nutrients ammonia and phosphorous, which causes struvite – a rock-like scale on pipes at the sewage works costing Thames Water £200,000 a year to clean.

The facility, built by Vancouver-based Ostara Nutrient Recovery, makes the phosphorous form into struvite in a controlled setting, before turning it into crystalline fertiliser pellets, which the company markets under the brand name Crystal Green, which it says is cleaner than any similar product on the market with lower heavy metal content.

Piers Clark, commercial director for Thames Water, said: “This is a classic win:win. We are producing eco-friendly steroids for plants, while also tackling the costly problem of struvite fouling up pipes at our works.

“The cash and carbon cost of digging phosphate out of the ground in a far-flung foreign clime then shipping it back to Britain makes no sense when compared to the local, sustainable process of our reactor in Slough. As we gain experience with this new technology, we intend to evaluate its suitability for installation at other Thames Water plants in the UK.”

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