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The company, Hamburger Phosphorrecyclinggesellschaft mbh, was founded in March 2018 following a successful two-year pilot phase. Its job: to recover 7,000 tonnes of pure phosphoric acid from 20,000 tonnes of sewage sludge ash every year. The pilot business has already confirmed that this is both technically and economically practicable. The system being used in Hamburg to carry out this work is REMONDIS’ TetraPhos® process and it is not only the only economically practicable system currently available on the market, it has also been presented with the GreenTec Award.
The large-scale facility is due to be commissioned in 2020 and will be run as a public private partnership, with HAMBURG WASSER owning a 60% and REMONDIS a 40% share. “By recovering phosphorus, the company is actively helping to conserve natural resources and reduce the impact humans have on the environment – phosphorus is a vital raw material and supplies are becoming increasingly scarce,” explained managing director, Roland Ruscheweyh.
The successfully tested facility is on the grounds of Hamburg’s sewage treatment plant
Phosphate is an important ingredient in mineral fertiliser and the fact that it is becoming more and more difficult to mine is already having a negative effect on food production. And with the world’s population continuing to grow, it may become increasingly difficult to supply everyone with the food they need. Recovering phosphorus has provided one solution to this problem – especially for agricultural businesses in Germany who have found themselves facing massive restrictions since the ‘DüMV’ [Fertiliser Ordinance] came into force in 2017. Almost 100% of all phosphate used in Germany has to be imported from abroad. This status quo, however, must have changed by 2029 at the latest: the German government has stipulated that large sewage treatment plants must recover the phosphorus from their sewage sludge or sewage sludge ash from this date onwards.
Further information about the Fertiliser Ordinance and the positive impact of compost can be found in the article “Compost – protecting water, storing water & naturally fertilising soils”.
HAMBURG WASSER and REMONDIS are ahead of the others with their newly established phosphorus recovery business and are acting as a role model for many large German cities as far as carrying out research work in this area is concerned. Its research activities and innovative work are being supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as well as by the BMU’s Environmental Innovation Programme.