What is simply one number among many at the Federal Patent Office is essential for future supplies of the vital substance, phosphorus
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for all living organisms. Almost 100% of the phosphorus used in Europe has to be imported and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to supply the volumes needed by agricultural and industrial businesses - primarily because reserves of this natural resource are becoming depleted and its quality is steadily deteriorating. We have been carrying out research work for many years now to counteract this problem. The result: we have developed patented processes to recover phosphorus from waste and are actively helping to conserve our planet's natural resources and protect our environment.
Phosphorus is important for the natural cycle of materials. Thanks to our new processes, it can be recovered and re-used e.g. as the salt, struvite, which contains phosphorus and can be used by the fertiliser industry
The majority of the phosphorus used in the food chain is returned to the environment via municipal and industrial wastewater. Thanks to our innovative processes and products (e.g. ALUMIN®), we are able to remove the phosphates from the wastewater. Most of these phosphates end up - in a concentrated form - in the resulting sewage sludge from which they can then be recovered.
Being a company with many years' experience of industrial recycling activities, we have long since read the signs of the times. We realise that phosphorus not only needs to be recovered so that it can be used directly as a fertiliser but also so that it can be supplied to industrial businesses as valuable phosphate. One way to do this is to process sewage sludge ash. We set the standards with our REPHOS® process years ago and have created a basis enabling phosphorus to be recovered in this way. To be able to do this, struvite, a salt containing phosphate, is recovered from industrial wastewater and then used as an exceptionally pure fertiliser.
We have also been exploring new avenues with our ReAlPhos® and TetraPhos® processes, both of which can be used to recover phosphorus. With these two patented processes, however, the focus is no longer on producing fertilisers but on high quality phosphoric acid. This is the most important starting product for producing all types of phosphorus compounds (phosphates) and, as a result, for e.g. fertilisers, animal feed, food additives and a whole range of products for the chemicals and metal industries. Our innovative TetraPhos® process is used to recover phosphoric acid and metal salts from sewage sludge ash. The wastewater treatment plants of the future will not, therefore, be simply a processing facility but a valuable source of raw materials. They will help to conserve our resources and, as a result, protect our environment.