Phosphorus recovery and reuse from waste streams

Rajasekar Karunanithi, Ariel A. Szogi, Nanthi Bolan, Ravi Naidu, Paripurnanda Loganathan, Patrick G. Hunt, Matias B. Vanotti, Christopher P. Saint, Yong Sik Ok, Sathiya Krishnamoorthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


Phosphorus (P) is a macronutrient essential for all living organisms. Regrettably, it is a finite resource since phosphate rock (PR) is the main material used for production of P fertilizers. Globally, the demand for quality PR is escalating due to many factors including increasing human population. Inevitably, the demand for PR will exceed its supply capacity. This condition will be very difficult to manage as living systems have no alternative for P. Moreover, P use efficiency is low; only 15-20% of applied P is used by crops and animals. Globally, the remaining P is shunted into various waste streams. These waste streams include large quantities of effluents rich in P from both municipal and industrial wastewater treatment systems and manure from livestock production. The P present in these waste streams poses a threat to the environment by nutrient enrichment resulting in serious ecological issues such as eutrophication of waterways. However, P in these waste streams, if economically recovered, can contribute to a sustainable management of P resources. This review covers the following aspects: global importance of P as an essential nutrient; efficient and sustainable utilization of P; waste stream production, their suitability for P recovery, and limitations; current and emerging technologies for recovery of P; and the use of recovered P material. Finally, future research needs are identified associated with P recovery from waste streams and reuse in agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-250
Number of pages78
JournalAdvances in Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Animal manure
  • Industrial effluents
  • Livestock effluents
  • Livestock waste
  • Municipal biosolids
  • Phosphate
  • Phosphorus recovery
  • Phosphorus recycling
  • Phosphorus use efficiency
  • Waste streams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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