Phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge char ash

M. Atienza-Martínez, G. Gea, J. Arauzo, Sascha R.A. Kersten*, A.M.J. Kootstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphorus was recovered from the ash obtained after combustion at different temperatures (600°C, 750°C and 900°C) and after gasification (at 820°C using a mixture of air and steam as fluidising agent) of char from sewage sludge fast pyrolysis carried out at 530°C. Depending on the leaching conditions (extraction time, acid load and acid concentration, and type of acid) 90% mass of the original P was recovered. Regarding char combustion ash, higher phosphorus yields are obtained from ash obtained at 900°C than at 600°C and 750°C when using sulphuric acid. Combustion temperature does not affect phosphorus leaching with oxalic acid. A contact time of 2h and an oxalic acid load of 10kgkg-1 of P seem sufficient for phosphorus extraction. Almost all phosphorus present in gasification ash is leached after 2h with both sulphuric and oxalic acid using an acid load of 14kgkg-1 of P. Char ash is a possible renewable source of phosphorus and it can be an alternative to rock phosphate in fertilizer production. The combination of sewage sludge pyrolysis, combustion or gasification of the char and phosphorus extraction from the final solid residue contributes to the integral exploitation of sewage sludge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-50
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Ash
  • Char
  • Phosphorus
  • Sewage sludge
  • Thermochemical processing


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