School of Engineering

Event items

The role of microalgae for phosphorus recovery from wastewater

Speakers: Dr Miller Alonso Camargo-Valero; Dr Duncan Borman (University of Leeds)

Date/Time: 12:00-13:00; 19 January 2018

Venue: Cassie Building Room 2.32

Phosphate is a non-renewable resource that is an essential macronutrient for plant growth. To ensure that future supply is adequate for humanity’s needs, it is essential:

  • to develop plants with improved phosphate acquisition and use efficiency, so that greater yields can be produced with reduced fertiliser inputs
  • to develop energy efficient means of recovering phosphorus (P) from waste and recycling it for agriculture.

The production and distribution of P-fertilisers is energy intensive. It relies heavily on non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels and phosphate-rich rocks, which are becoming increasingly scarce. In the UK, the production of nearly 11 billion litres of sewage per day contribute to the main source of P losses affecting aquatic ecosystems. Raw sewage contains the equivalent of 71% of annually imported P-fertiliser, but the current nutrient control processes at Sewage Treatment Works (STW) remain a linear approach to nutrient management with limited opportunities for recovery and re-use of P as fertiliser.

Microalgae have been identified as a viable option for meeting energy and nutrient recovery goals in STWs, as they comfortably grow in sewage under either heterotrophic or phototrophic conditions, without need for supplemental nutrient sources. This presentation introduces the work conducted at the University of Leeds on the use of microalgae for nutrient control in STWs and its potential reuse in agriculture.