Bulk pH and Carbon Source Are Key Factors for Calcium Phosphate Granulation

Jorge Ricardo Cunha, Sara Morais, Joana C. Silva, Renata D. Van Der Weijden*, Lucía Hernández Leal, Grietje Zeeman, Cees J.N. Buisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Recovery of calcium phosphate granules (CaP granules) from high-strength wastewater is an opportunity to reduce the natural phosphorus (P) scarcity, geographic imbalances of P reserves, and eutrophication. Formation of CaP granules was previously observed in an upflow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactor treating source separated black water and is enhanced by Ca2+ addition. However, the required operating conditions and influent composition for CaP granulation are still unknown. In this study, we have experimentally demonstrated that the carbon source and bulk pH are crucial parameters for the formation and growth of CaP granules in a UASB reactor, operating at relatively low upflow velocity (<1 cm h-1). Degradation of glucose yielded sufficient biomass (microbial cells and extracellular biopolymers) to cover crystal and amorphous calcium phosphate [Cax(PO4)y], forming CaP granules. Influent only containing volatile fatty acids as the carbon source did not generate CaP granules. Moreover, bulk pH between 7.0 and 7.5 was crucial for the enrichment of Cax(PO4)y in the granules over bulk precipitation. Bulk pH 8 reduced the Cax(PO4)y enrichment in granules of >1.4 mm diameter from 9 to 5 wt % P. Moreover, for bulk pH 7.5, co-precipitation of CaCO3 with Cax(PO4)y was reduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1334–1343
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


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