Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Total Environ. 2012 Mar 1;419:68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.12.065. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Wood ash as a magnesium source for phosphorus recovery from source-separated urine.

Author information

Centre for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Hauz Khas, New Delhi - 110 016, India.


Struvite precipitation is a simple technology for phosphorus recovery from source-separated urine. However, production costs can be high if expensive magnesium salts are used as precipitants. Therefore, waste products can be interesting alternatives to industrially-produced magnesium salts. We investigated the technical and financial feasibility of wood ash as a magnesium source in India. In batch experiments with source-separated urine, we could precipitate 99% of the phosphate with a magnesium dosage of 2.7 mol Mg mol P(-1). The availability of the magnesium from the wood ash used in our experiment was only about 50% but this could be increased by burning the wood at temperatures well above 600 °C. Depending on the wood ash used, the precipitate can contain high concentrations of heavy metals. This could be problematic if the precipitate were used as fertilizer depending on the applicable fertilizer regulations. The financial study revealed that wood ash is considerably cheaper than industrially-produced magnesium sources and even cheaper than bittern. However, the solid precipitated with wood ash is not pure struvite. Due to the high calcite and the low phosphorus content (3%), the precipitate would be better used as a phosphorus-enhanced conditioner for acidic soils. The estimated fertilizer value of the precipitate was actually slightly lower than wood ash, because 60% of the potassium dissolved into solution during precipitation and was not present in the final product. From a financial point of view and due to the high heavy metal content, wood ash is not a very suitable precipitant for struvite production. Phosphate precipitation from urine with wood ash can be useful if (1) a strong need for a soil conditioner that also contains phosphate exists, (2) potassium is abundant in the soil and (3) no other cheap precipitant, such as bittern or magnesium oxide, is available.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center