Concept and Scope
In line with UNs Sustainable Development Goals, Strategic Implementation Plan of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials and specific goals of ERA-MIN Research Agenda, fertilisers and related supply chains based on primary raw materials are exposed to major challenges in terms of stability of supply and sustainability. These require the introduction of novel, systemic approaches and solutions for diversifying raw material sourcing and improving resource efficiency, while mitigating overall environmental, social and health impacts.
At the same time, the development of effective and sustainable waste management and resource recovery practices is progressively emerging as a priority issue. Nowadays, waste and by-product streams are often severely underutilized or their treatment fails to address the circular economy dimension, public acceptance, environmental sustainability and above goals on raw materials. Incineration ashes of phosphorous-rich wastewater sludge and magnesium-rich mining by-products are among these streams.
To tackle these challenges, the PHOSTER project aims to deliver a sustainable circular economy solution for the recovery of secondary minerals and metals from wastewater sludge and by-products in mining industry in the view of substituting primary critical raw materials (phosphate rock, phosphorus, magnesium) in the supply chain of fertilizer manufacturing.
To do this, PHOSTER relies on a methodology that is for the first time based on the integrated assessment of the production process for high-value finished products through a procedure in which all stages are designed simultaneously to deliver a new concept, demonstrating fully optimized KPIs on technical, economic, environmental and social performance of the value-chain. Such eco-design methodology is pursued by an adaptive bottom-up feedback loop scheme through which the production processes are redesigned with a holistic involvement of all partners up to the TRL 4 solution that could be easily scaled-up with the provision of technical elements for prototyping.
PHOSTER implementation consists of 5 major steps which are based on the target production process structure
of monoincineration process
Optimisation of selective phosphorus extraction by acid leaching avoiding contamination from undesired metals and metalloids
Identification and preparation of mining by-products rich in magnesium
Development of a selective co-precipitation process for recovery of high-value nutrient-rich material
Technical and sustainability assessment of the recovered products and the production process guiding the eco-design methodology
Through coordinated innovations and integration of innovative solutions in each stage of the value-chain, PHOSTER goes beyond incremental innovation and delivers the collectively optimized process, which for the first time considers the correct order of priorities as imposed through circular economy guidelines.
Six project partners represent all relevant stakeholders (waste producers/managers, mining industry, fertiliser manufacturers, technology developers and experts in sustainability assessment), cooperating from the inception stage onwards through an innovative methodology for sustainable value-chain development.