Aquatic environment

Phosphorus recovery from wastewater by struvite crystallization:Property of aggregates

Zhilong Ye , Yin Shen , Xin Ye , Zhaoji Zhang , Shaohua Chen , Jianwen Shi


Received June 25, 2013,Revised October 12, 2013, Accepted , Available online April 01, 2014

Volume 26,2014,Pages 991-1000

Struvite crystallization is a promising method to remove and recover phosphorus from wastewater to ease both the scarcity of phosphorus rock resources and water eutrophication worldwide. To date, although various kinds of reactor systems have been developed, supporting methods are required to control the struvite fines flushing out of the reactors. As an intrinsic property, aggregation is normally disregarded in the struvite crystallization process, although it is the key factor in final particle size and therefore guarantees phosphorus recovery efficiency. The present study developed a method to analyze the characteristics of struvite aggregates using fractal geometry, and the influence of operational parameters on struvite aggregation was evaluated. Due to its typical orthorhombic molecular structure, struvite particles are prone to crystallize into needle or rod shapes, and aggregate at the corners or edges of crystals. The determined fractal dimension (Dpf) of struvite aggregates was 1.52-1.31, with the corresponding range of equivalent diameter (d0.5) at 295.9-85.4 μm. Aggregates formed in relatively low phosphorus concentrations (3.0-5.0 mmol/L) and mildly alkaline conditions (pH 9.0-9.5) displayed relatively compact structures, large aggregate sizes and high aggregation strength. Increasing pH values led to continuous decrease of aggregate sizes, while the variation of Dpf was insignificant. As to the aggregate evolution, fast growth in a short time followed by a long steady stage was observed.

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