Struvite precipitation thermodynamics in source-separated urine

Mariska Ronteltap, Max Maurer*, Willi Gujer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

165 Citations (Scopus)


Struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) precipitation eliminates phosphate efficiently from urine, a small but highly concentrated stream in the total flux of domestic wastewater. Precipitation experiments with hydrolysed urine evaluated the solubility product of struvite. The stored and fully hydrolysed urine had an ionic strength of between 0.33 and 0.56 M and required the estimation of activity coefficients. From our data, we identified the Davies approximation with the two constants A=0.509 and B=0.3 as agreeing best with our laboratory results. The standard solubility product Ks0=f1[NH4+]f 2[Mg2+]f3[PO43-] ([ ]=concentration of the species; fx=corresponding activity coefficient) of struvite in urine was found to be 10-13.26±0.057 at 25 °C and the enthalpy of struvite formation ΔH was 22.6(±1.1) kJ mol-1. The equilibrium calculations required the following dissolved complexes: [MgCO3]aq, [MgHCO3]+, [MgPO4]-, [NH4HPO4]-, and [NaHPO4]- and to a lesser extent [MgSO4]aq and [NH4SO4]-. Organic complexes do not seem to influence the solubility product substantially. For practical purposes, a conditional solubility product Kscond=[Mgaq]·[NH4 ++NH3]·[Portho]=10-7.57 M3 was derived to calculate struvite solubility in urine at 25 °C, pH=9.0 and ionic strength I=0.4 M directly from measured concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-984
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Activity coefficients
  • Enthalpy
  • Moderate ionic strength
  • Struvite
  • Urine
  • Wastewater treatment


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