Struvite precipitation assessment in anaerobic digestion processes

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Struvite precipitation causes important operational problems during the sludge treatment process, especially when EBPR sludge is treated. Predicting struvite formation is critical to be able to design process alternative that best minimises struvite precipitation. With this aim, phosphorus precipitation in an anaerobic digestion pilot plant was studied using experimental data and mass balance analysis. The results obtained showed significant phosphorus precipitation as struvite (58% of the fixed phosphorus) and a low precipitation of calcium phosphates (15%), forming mainly hydroxyapatite (HAP). The rest of the phosphorus fixed in the digester (27%) was attributed to adsorption processes on solid surfaces. The effect of pH and available phosphorus concentration on phosphorus fixation in the digester was also studied, indicating that a decrease of available PO 4 -P concentration in the digester can minimise phosphorus precipitation, reducing the maintenance problems associated with struvite deposits.
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Martí Ortega, Nuria Bouzas Blanco, Alberto Seco Torrecillas, Aurora Ferrer Polo, José 2008 Struvite precipitation assessment in anaerobic digestion processes Chemical Engineering Journal 141 67 74