Development of a low-cost adsorbent material for the removal and recovery of phosphorus in waters

Project Details


Phosphorus (p) is a non-renewable element and essential for all living organisms. This is part of a large number of compounds important for life and is the main constituent of fertilizers used in agriculture. The main source of phosphorus and raw material in the fertilizer production industry is phosphate rock, of which, according to various sources, there will only be reserves available for the next 100 years. the decrease in the quantity and quality of phosphate rock, generates the need to seek new sources and develop sustainable methods for recycling, recovery and conservation of this vital element. Since a large proportion of the phosphorus present in food ends up in municipal waste, effluent from wastewater treatment plants becomes a promising source for recycling and recovery. the high content of phosphorus in the effluents of sewage treatment plants, generates the deterioration of the aquatic environment and is the main responsible for the eutrophication of rivers and lakes. adsorption methods for the removal and recovery of phosphorus have proven to be attractive due to the simplicity of operation. However, the main drawbacks when using this removal method are: high costs in the adsorbent material and low selectivity of the adsorbent towards phosphorus due to the presence of ions, such as: chloride, nitrate, bicarbonate and sulfate, which compete in the adsorption process with phosphate, reducing the efficiency in the elimination and recovery of phosphorus. With the proposal of this project, it is intended to develop a low-cost adsorbent material (based on biochar), produced from the waste generated in processes biomass thermochemicals from the region, environmentally friendly and selective towards phosphate in its removal process from wastewater, as well as designing and manufacturing a laboratory-scale pilot plant that allows the production of low-cost absorbent material. At the same time, the possibility of recycling the recovered phosphorus is proposed, either through the desorption of the removed phosphorus and its subsequent transformation into a high value-added product, such as a fertilizer, or through the direct use of the adsorbent as a fertilizer. In parallel, the computational chemistry tool will be used to design the adsorbent, evaluate and characterize the adsorption process.


To develop a low-cost adsorbent material for the removal and recovery of phosphorus in waters specific objectives to determine the appropriate parameters for obtaining biochar from the pyrolysis of different types of biomass and then use it as an adsorbent to physically-chemically characterize the different types of Biocha obtained from different biomass to evaluate the selective adsorption of phosphate in biochar from effluents of wastewater treatment plants or aquatic systems contaminated with this anion. evaluate the effect of modifying the surface of the biochar on the selective adsorption of phosphate characterize the different modes of adsorption of phosphate on the biochar using different analysis techniques evaluate the process of desorption of phosphate from the adsorbent material and its subsequent transformation to a high-value product In addition, to manufacture a laboratory scale pilot plant that allows obtaining the adsorbent material with the optimized conditions in the previous objectives. propose a mechanism of phosphate adsorption on biochar by molecular modeling. characterize by molecular modeling the different interactions present in the different modes of adsorption of phosphate on biochar examine the thermodynamic favorability of the formation of different surface complexes of phosphate during adsorption on biochar.

Expected results

3 published articles, 2 internatioal or national events, 1 Laboratory escale pilto plant, 1 cientific colaboration with international or national groups, 1 formation pregrated student and 2 formation master's degree students.
Short titleFósforo en aguas
AcronymFósforo en aguas
Effective start/end date30/11/1830/05/22


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.