Full-scale increased iron dosage to stimulate the formation of vivianite and its recovery from digested sewage sludge

T. Prot*, W. Wijdeveld, L. Ekua Eshun, A. I. Dugulan, K. Goubitz, L. Korving, M. C.M. Van Loosdrecht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The recovery of phosphorus from secondary sources like sewage sludge is essential in a world suffering from resources depletion. Recent studies have demonstrated that phosphorus can be magnetically recovered as vivianite (Fe(II)3(PO4)2∗8H2O) from the digested sludge (DS) of Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP) dosing iron. To study the production of vivianite in digested sludge, the quantity of Fe dosed at the WWTP of Nieuwveer (The Netherlands) was increased (from 0.83 to 1.53 kg Fe/kg P in the influent), and the possible benefits for the functioning of the WWTP were evaluated. Higher Fe dosing is not only relevant for P-recovery, but also for maximal recovery of organics from influent for e.g. biogas production. The share of phosphorus present as vivianite in the DS increased from 20% to 50% after the increase in Fe dosing, making more phosphorus available for future magnetic recovery. This increase was directly proportional to the increase of Fe in DS, suggesting that vivianite could be favored not only thermodynamically, but also kinetically. Interestingly, analyses suggest that several types of vivianite are formed in the WWTP, and could differ in their purity, oxidation state or crystallinity. These differences could have an impact on the subsequent magnetic separation. Following the Fe dosing increase, P in the effluent and H2S in the biogas both decreased: 1.28 to 0.42 ppm for P and 26 to 8 ppm for H2S. No negative impact on the nitrogen removal, biogas production, COD removal or dewaterability was observed. Since quantification of vivianite in DS is complicated, previous studies were reviewed and we proposed a more accurate Mössbauer spectroscopy analysis and fitting for sludge samples. This study is important from a P recovery point of view, but also because iron addition can play a crucial role in future resource recovery wastewater facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115911
Number of pages20
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Iron sulphide
  • Magnetic recovery
  • Mössbauer spectroscopy
  • Phosphorus recovery
  • Waste water treatment plant (WWTP)
  • X-ray diffraction (XRD)


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