Concentrating nutrients on biochar and clinoptilolite and subsequently using the nutrient-enriched sorbents as a fertiliser could be an alternative way to manage nutrients in digestate. In this study, we investigated the use of biochar and clinoptilolite columns in removing ammonium, potassium, orthophosphate and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the liquid fraction of digestate. Our objectives were to investigate the effect of the initial loading ratio between liquid and biochar on nutrient removal, and to investigate the effect of combining biochar with clinoptilolite on nutrient and DOC removal efficiency. Increasing the initial loading ratios increased nutrient concentrations on biochar to 8.61 mg NH4-N g−1, 1.95 mg PO4-P g−1 and 13.01 mg DOC g−1, but resulted in decreasing removal efficiencies. The combination of biochar and clinoptilolite resulted in improved ammonium, potassium and DOC removal efficiencies compared to biochar alone, but did not significantly change PO4-P removal efficiencies. Removal efficiencies with combined sorbents were up to 67% for ammonium, 58% for DOC and 58% for potassium. Clinoptilolite showed higher removal efficiencies compared to biochar alone, and combining clinoptilolite with biochar improved only total P removal efficiency. Concentrating nutrients with clinoptilolite and biochar may be an option when both sorbents are available at low cost.
- liquid fraction of digestate
- nutrient recovery