Engineered Struvite Precipitation: Impacts of Component-Ion Molar Ratios and pH

Jun Wang
Joel Gerard Burken, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Xiaoqi Zhang
Rao Y. Surampalli

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Struvite precipitation has the potential for removing and recovering phosphorus from agricultural wastewater streams, such as concentrated animal feeding operations wastewater. However, impacts of anticipated component-ion molar ratios and potentially interfering ions are unknown as are the compounding pH relationship with respect to all potential complexes. This research experimentally investigates and mathematically models these factors. Emphasis is placed upon the composition of formed deposits and model validation with experimental data. Results show that calcium is a major interfering ion affecting the deposit composition, decreasing struvite purity. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy + energy dispersive spectrometry were used to study the deposit structure and elemental composition. Results revealed that the precipitates formed at a pH of 8.7 have regular crystal shape, and XRD analysis confirmed that the precipitates are high-purity struvite. Higher pH (>10) leads to the formation of amorphous precipitate and decreases the struvite purity in the deposits. To maximize struvite purity, the ratio of Ca to P should be less than 0.5 and the pH near 8.7.