Electrochemical phosphate recovery from nanofiltration concentrates

C. Kappel, K. Yasadi, H. Temmink, S. J. Metz, A. J.B. Kemperman*, K. Nijmeijer, A. Zwijnenburg, Geert-Jan Witkamp, H. H.M. Rijnaarts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The high total phosphorus content of raw domestic wastewater with its significant eutrophication potential offers an excellent possibility for phosphate recovery. Continuous recirculation of NF concentrate to an MBR and simultaneous phosphate recovery from the NF concentrate can be applied to produce reusable water, recovering phosphates, while at the same time decreasing the scaling potential of the recirculated NF concentrate, prolonging the retention times of slowly biodegradable soluble compounds (e.g. micropollutants) and recirculating multivalent cations to promote the bio-flocculation. Here we introduce an electrochemical system to recover phosphates. An electrochemical cell was divided into an anode and a cathode compartment separated by a cation exchange membrane. Precipitation of phosphates from nanofiltration concentrate was induced by locally increasing the pH at the cathode surface by water electrolysis and thereby creating supersaturated conditions at the cathode. 70-95% recovery of total phosphate was achieved at a pH of 8-10 near the cathode. Ion analysis, XRD and ATR-FTIR spectra indicated that the precipitate consisted of amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP) and minor proportions of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC). The amount of ACC was dependent on the pH. Calcium phosphate scaling at the cathode surface did not occur due to H 2-gas formation preventing nucleation and growth at the cathode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - Nov 22 2013


  • Domestic wastewater
  • Membrane bioreactor
  • Nanofiltration concentrate
  • Phosphate recovery
  • Water reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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