Dinh Huu Phu1, Le Tuyet Ngoc1, Le Nguyen Quang Tu1, Do Thi Minh Hieu1,2, Nguyen Quang Long This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1,2, and Minh-Vien Le This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1,2

1Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT), 268 Ly Thuong Kiet – Dist.10 - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
2Vietnam National University, Linh Trung – Thu Duc – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Received: March 8, 2021
Accepted: June 25, 2021
Publication Date: November 24, 2021

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.6180/jase.202208_25(4).0013  


Conventional method for removal of N and P from industrial wastewater by biological treatment requires a long hydraulic- retention- time (HRT) and strict conditions for protecting the microorganisms. This study focuses on N and P recovery by struvite (MgNH4PO4 .6H2O) precipitation method which is a fast chemical process. In order to control the specs of the sample, a simulated wastewater solution was prepared according to the parameters of inorganic fertilizer wastewater. The influence of pH (7-9), Mg/P molar ratio (1-1.6) and N/P molar ratio (1.2-2) in struvite recovery efficiency was evaluated and the obtained struvite samples were characterized using X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Response surface methodology (RSM) was utilized in Box-Behnken experimental design and data analysis to obtain a mathematic for P and N recovery. The XRD and SEM results confirmed the formation of struvite structure with the particle size about 7-50 micrometers. The obtained struvite contained nutrients N, P2O5 and MgO which can be used directly in fertilizer formulation. The mathematic models for P recovery and N recovery were obtained from analyzing experimental data with p-value <0.05. Basing on the proposed parameters (pH=9, Mg/P=1.4 and N/P=1.2) obtained from the mathematic model, 98% of phosphorous from an actual fertilizer wastewater sample (pH=8.3, N/P=1.2, P=2.98 g L−1 ) can be recovered. The obtained mathematic model and the suggested technical conditions can be applied for simultaneous recovery ammonium and phosphate from practical wastewater with high concentrations such as in fertilizer industry.

Keywords: fertilizer industry, nitrogen recovery, phosphorous recovery, process optimization, struvite


  1. [1] D. Grossmann, H. Köser, R. Kretschmer, and M. Porobin, (2001) “Treatment of diglyme containing wastewater by advanced oxidation - Process design and optimisation" Water Science and Technology 44(5): 287–293. DOI: 10.2166/wst.2001.0308.
  2. [2] M. Singh and R. Srivastava, (2011) “Sequencing batch reactor technology for biological wastewater treatment: A review" Asia-Pacific Journal of Chemical Engineering 6(1): 3–13. DOI: 10.1002/apj.490.
  3. [3] T. Stephenson, K. Brindle, S. Judd, and B. Jefferson. Membrane bioreactors for wastewater treatment. IWA publishing, 2000.
  4. [4] W. Somasiri, X.-F. Li, W.-Q. Ruan, and C. Jian, (2008) “Evaluation of the efficacy of upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor in removal of colour and reduction of COD in real textile wastewater" Bioresource Technology 99(9): 3692–3699. DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2007.07.024.
  5. [5] M. Latif, R. Ghufran, Z. Wahid, and A. Ahmad, (2011) “Integrated application of upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor for the treatment of wastewaters" Water Research 45(16): 4683–4699. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2011. 05.049.
  6. [6] W.-t. Zhao, X. Huang, and D.-j. Lee, (2009) “Enhanced treatment of coke plant wastewater using an anaerobic- anoxic-oxic membrane bioreactor system" Separation and Purification Technology 66(2): 279–286. DOI: 10. 1016/j.seppur.2008.12.028.
  7. [7] V. Leite, S. Prasad, W. Lopes, J. de Sousa, and A. Barros, (2013) “Study on ammonia stripping process of leachate from the packed towers" Journal of Urban and Environmental Engineering 7(2): 215–222. DOI: 10.4090/juee.2013.v7n2.215222.
  8. [8] S. Guštin and R. Marinšek-Logar, (2011) “Effect of pH, temperature and air flow rate on the continuous ammonia stripping of the anaerobic digestion effluent" Process Safety and Environmental Protection 89(1): 61–66. DOI: 10.1016/j.psep.2010.11.001.
  9. [9] X. Li and Q. Zhao, (2003) “Recovery of ammonium- nitrogen from landfill leachate as a multi-nutrient fertilizer" Ecological Engineering 20(2): 171–181. DOI: 10.1016/S0925-8574(03)00012-0.
  10. [10] Q. Wu and P. Bishop, (2004) “Enhancing struvite crystallization from anaerobic supernatant" Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science 3(1): 21–29. DOI: 10.1139/S03-050.
  11. [11] S. Wongkiew, Z. Hu, J. W. Lee, K. Chandran, H. T. Nhan, K. R. Marcelino, and S. K. Khanal, (2021) “Nitrogen Recovery via Aquaponics–Bioponics: Engineering Considerations and Perspectives" ACS ES&T Engineering 1(3): 326–339.
  12. [12] R. Yu, J. Geng, H. Ren, Y. Wang, and K. Xu, (2013) “Struvite pyrolysate recycling combined with dry pyrolysis for ammonium removal from wastewater" Bioresource Technology 132: 154–159. DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech. 2013.01.015.
  13. [13] N. Acelas, E. Flórez, and D. López, (2015) “Phosphorus recovery through struvite precipitation from wastewater: effect of the competitive ions" Desalination and Water Treatment 54(9): 2468–2479. DOI: 10.1080/19443994. 2014.902337.
  14. [14] A. Korchef, H. Saidou, and M. Amor, (2011) “Phosphate recovery through struvite precipitation by CO2 removal: Effect of magnesium, phosphate and ammonium concentrations" Journal of Hazardous Materials 186(1): 602–613. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2010.11.045.
  15. [15] B. Tansel, G. Lunn, and O. Monje, (2018) “Struvite formation and decomposition characteristics for ammonia and phosphorus recovery: A review of magnesium-ammonia-phosphate interactions" Chemosphere 194: 504–514. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.12.004.
  16. [16] M. E. Trenkel. Slow-and controlled-release and stabilized fertilizers: an option for enhancing nutrient use efficiency in agriculture. IFA, International fertilizer industry association, 2010.
  17. [17] E. Tarragó, S. Puig, M. Ruscalleda, M. Balaguer, and J. Colprim, (2016) “Controlling struvite particles’ size using the up-flow velocity" Chemical Engineering Journal 302: 819–827. DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2016.06.036.
  18. [18] F. Ramírez, V. González, M. Crespo, D. Meier, O. Faix, and V. Zúñiga, (1997) “Ammoxidized kraft lignin as a slow-release fertilizer tested on Sorghum vulgare" Bioresource Technology 61(1): 43–46. DOI: 10.1016/S0960 8524(97)84697-4.
  19. [19] B. Azeem, K. Kushaari, Z. Man, A. Basit, and T. Thanh, (2014) “Review on materials methods to produce controlled release coated urea fertilizer" Journal of Controlled Release 181(1): 11–21. DOI: 10.1016/j. jconrel.2014.02.020.
  20. [20] R. L. Mason, R. F. Gunst, and J. L. Hess. Statistical design and analysis of experiments: with applications to engineering and science. 474. John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
  21. [21] S. Zhou and Y. Wu, (2012) “Improving the prediction of ammonium nitrogen removal through struvite precipitation" Environmental Science and Pollution Research 19(2): 347–360. DOI: 10.1007/s11356-011-0520- 6.
  22. [22] Z.-L. Ye, S.-H. Chen, S.-M. Wang, L.-F. Lin, Y.-J. Yan, Z.-J. Zhang, and J.-S. Chen, (2010) “Phosphorus recovery from synthetic swine wastewater by chemical precipitation using response surface methodology" Journal of Hazardous Materials 176(1-3): 1083–1088.
  23. [23] G. Jia, H. Zhang, J. Krampe, T. Muster, B. Gao, N. Zhu, and B. Jin, (2017) “Applying a chemical equilibrium model for optimizing struvite precipitation for ammonium recovery from anaerobic digester effluent" Journal of Cleaner Production 147: 297–305. DOI: 10.1016/j. jclepro.2017.01.116.
  24. [24] S. Kumari, S. Jose, and S. Jagadevan, (2019) “Optimization of phosphate recovery as struvite from synthetic distillery wastewater using a chemical equilibrium model" Environmental Science and Pollution Research 26(29): 30452–30462. DOI: 10.1007/s11356-019- 06152-4.
  25. [25] S. Polat and P. Sayan, (2019) “Application of response surface methodology with a Box–Behnken design for struvite precipitation" Advanced Powder Technology 30(10): 2396–2407. DOI: 10.1016/j.apt.2019.07.022.
  26. [26] M. Rahman, M. Salleh, and T. D. U. Rashid, (2018) “Recovery of nitrogen and phosphorus from synthetic wastewater through crystallization process" Journal of Desalination and Water Purification 3: 11–16.
  27. [27] S. Lee, S. Weon, C. Lee, and B. Koopman, (2003) “Removal of nitrogen and phosphate from wastewater by addition of bittern" Chemosphere 51(4): 265–271. DOI: 10.1016/S0045-6535(02)00807-X.
  28. [28] X. Hao, C. Wang, M. C. Van Loosdrecht, and Y. Hu. Looking beyond struvite for P-recovery. 2013.
  29. [29] A. Adnan, F. A. Koch, and D. S. Mavinic, (2003) “Pilot-scale study of phosphorus recovery through struvite crystallization–II: Applying in-reactor supersaturation ratio as a process control parameter" Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science 2(6): 473–483.
  30. [30] E. Munch and K. Barr, (2001) “Controlled struvite crystallisation for removing phosphorus from anaerobic digester sidestreams" Water Research 35(1): 151–159.
  31. [31] S. Tang, D. Yuan, Y. Rao, J. Zhang, Y. Qu, and J. Gu, (2018) “Evaluation of antibiotic oxytetracycline removal in water using a gas phase dielectric barrier discharge plasma" Journal of Environmental Management 226: 22–29. DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.08.022.
  32. [32] W. E. Federation, A. Association, et al., (1998) “Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater" American Public Health Association (APHA): Washington, DC, USA:
  33. [33] W. Gong, Y. Li, L. Luo, X. Luo, X. Cheng, and H. Liang, (2018) “Application of struvite-MAP crystallization reactor for treating cattle manure anaerobic digested slurry: Nitrogen and phosphorus recovery and crystal fertilizer efficiency in plant trials" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15(7): DOI: 10.3390/ijerph15071397.
  34. [34] A. Ahmad and A. Idris, (2014) “Release and recovery of phosphorus from wastewater treatment sludge via struvite precipitation" Desalination and Water Treatment 52(28-30): 5696–5703. DOI: 10.1080/19443994.2013. 813101.
  35. [35] S. Shaddel, S. Ucar, J.-P. Andreassen, and S. Sterhus, (2019) “Engineering of struvite crystals by regulating supersaturation - Correlation with phosphorus recovery, crystal morphology and process efficiency" Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering 7(1): DOI: 10. 1016/j.jece.2019.102918.
  36. [36] S. Daneshgar, A. Buttafava, D. Capsoni, A. Callegari, and A. Capodaglio, (2018) “Impact of pH and ionic molar ratios on phosphorous forms precipitation and recovery from different wastewater sludges" Resources 7(4): DOI: 10.3390/resources7040071.
  37. [37] B. Etter, E. Tilley, R. Khadka, and K. Udert, (2011) “Low-cost struvite production using source-separated urine in Nepal" Water Research 45(2): 852–862. DOI: 10 . 1016/j.watres.2010.10.007.
  38. [38] W. M. Haynes, (2014) “CRC Handbook of chemistry and physics, CRC Press" Inc, Boca Raton, FL:
  39. [39] B. Li, H. Huang, I. Boiarkina, W. Yu, Y. Huang, G. Wang, and B. Young, (2019) “Phosphorus recovery through struvite crystallisation: Recent developments in the understanding of operational factors" Journal of Environmental Management 248: DOI: 10.1016/j. jenvman.2019.07.025.


33rd percentile
Powered by  Scopus

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Enter your name and email below to receive latest published articles in Journal of Applied Science and Engineering.