Struvite precipitation from urine - Influencing factors on particle size

Mariska Ronteltap*, Max Maurer, Rainer Hausherr, Willi Gujer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)


Struvite crystallisation is a fast and reliable phosphorus removal and recovery process for concentrated waste streams - such as hydrolysed human urine. In order to optimise P-elimination efficiency, it is beneficial to obtain larger particle sizes: they are easier to separate and less prone to wash-out than smaller particles. This paper presents the results of a study on the effect of process parameters on particle size in a single step struvite precipitation. Crystals formed in batch experiments with real hydrolysed urine were shown to have an average size of >90 μm at pH 9 and 20 °C. This is reduced to 45 μm when changing stirrer type. Particle size increases with lower supersaturation. The results showed that under otherwise constant conditions, particle size decreases with lower temperature and has a minimum between pH 9 and 10. Deviating trends are observed at pH <8. Struvite formation in a CSTR (continuously stirred tank reactor) process was shown to be a reliable stable process that does not require any pH control. A method based on conductivity measurement is presented to estimate ionic strength, which is needed for equilibrium calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2038-2046
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Crystal size
  • Phosphorus recovery
  • Struvite
  • Supersaturation
  • Urine


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