The Biorenewable Business Platform and Energy Valley commissioned Wageningen Economic Research to carry out a study into ways to make phosphate recovery a tangible reality. The key question was: what is the economic feasibility and the innovation process of phosphate recovery via (i) small-scale manure processing, (ii) large-scale manure processing, (iii) anaerobic digestion and processing of organic industrial waste, (iv) sewage sludge incineration and (v) struvite extraction?
This question is answered by comparing the supply of animal manure, sewage sludge and waste flows from the agricultural industry in the Netherlands with demand for phosphate within the agricultural sector in Europe and industrial applications. The equilibrium of supply and demand was compared to the economic returns while the innovation processes for each of the five cases were formulated in the key question.
The result showed that recycling phosphate from the ash obtained in sewage sludge incineration is economically and practically feasible. The economic prospects for recycling phosphate from pig manure and organic industrial waste were shown to be highly uncertain and the extraction of struvite from organic waste flows was not found to be economically interesting for phosphate recycling.