Nutrient recovery

Nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and sulfur are essential for all living organisms, in particular for plants. Thus, these nutrients are the main components of fertilizers, and so they are indispensable for the world’s food supply. Nowadays, these nutrients are only partially recycled in agro-ecosystems, since human intervention has created a linear, dispersive system.

The key response to this lack of sustainability within agriculture and waste management is to recreate a cycle of nutrients. For this reason, Fraunhofer IGB has established a research field to develop and implement cost-efficient strategies and technologies for the integrated resource management of nutrients.

Technologies

 

ePhos®: Electrochemical phosphorus recovery of phosphorus

For the recovery of phosphorus from municipal wastewater, we have developed an electrochemical process that delivers the high-quality fertilizer struvite without added chemicals.

 

BioEcoSIM® – Multi-stage process for the treatment of manure and digestate

For the treatment of liquid manure or fermentation residues, different procedural steps are required, which have been integrated as separate modules in a plant. Thus phosphorus fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer and soil conditioner can be obtained.

 

Drying of solid biological residues and active substances

At the IGB, fermentation residues, the organic liquid manure fraction or cyanobacteria are dried with a new type of dryer using superheated steam dryer (SHSD). This dryer, developed at Fraunhofer IGB, offers significant advantages over conventional dryers using hot air.

Applications

 

Sewage plants

For more than 25 years Fraunhofer IGB has been developing biotechnological processes for the treatment of water and waste – from the microbilogical basics to the development of sewage plants on a technical or pilot scale.

 

Bioenergy

In addition to technologies for the extraction or recovery of nutrients based on biotechnological processes, Fraunhofer IGB also develops technologies for the generation of sustainable energy. The institute explores possibilities to combine both fields of research, thus enabling a highly efficient use of natural resources.

 

Liquid manure

Fraunhofer IGB develops technologies for the recovery of nutrients and other resources als well as organic components from agricultural waste such as manure to produce high-quality and compact organic and mineral fertilizers.

 

Food and animal feed industry

In the food and animal feed industry, there is a great need for technologies for the sensible use of residues and waste. In this context, the researchers at Fraunhofer IGB develop methods for the preparation of production remains and the recovery of nutrients from these.

 

Plant and soil substrates

Due to intensive agriculture and the consequent soil contamination it is crucial to maintain the soil quality in arable areas. That is why there is a high demand for fertilizers. For this reason Fraunhofer IGB explores  sustainable production processes of fertilizers and soil conditioners, as well as of plant protection products on a biotechnological basis.