Wastewater treatment currently uses significant amounts of energy to remove valuable nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These same nutrients are major components of agricultural fertilisers critical for plant growth and replenishment of depleted soils, which are industrially produced for the agricultural sector at immensely high costs.
This project aims to develop technologies which can recover energy, water and valuable elements such as phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium from wastewater making the resource recovery energy and cost neutral. The ultimate goal is to develop a suite of technologies that together can supplement or completely replace existing domestic wastewater treatment systems at all scales.
This project is developing a world-first technology for a next-generation resource recovery process which will potentially be able to replace existing wastewater treatment technology. This technology has the potential to recover vital fertiliser compounds such as potassium and phosphorous, which is a non-renewable essential element. Another huge advantage of this technology is that it meets or exceeds the technical performance capability of existing technologies. There is strong multi-sector support from the waste, wastewater and agriculture and related farming industries.
The project will deliver ground-breaking new technologies such as the partition-release-recovery method that recovers nutrients from wastewater while also producing methane gas, which is recovered for generating electricity, making the system energy neutral. Researchers will work closely with industry stakeholders, who are expected to derive massive benefits from these new technologies through making their operations more cost-effective, sustainable and carbon neutral.
So far research has produced proof-of- concept in novel resource recovery and identified potential for further development of commercial outputs. A pilot processing plant at Brisbane’s Luggage Point Advanced Water Treatment Plant has been developed in conjunction with Queensland Urban Utilities.