Quick wash process for removing and recovering phosphorus from wastes

Award Year 

A new treatment process, called Quick Wash, was originally developed to extract and recover phosphorus from poultry litter and animal manure solids, but research has shown that the approach is equally effective with municipal biosolids. Nutrient pollution, caused by too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment, is one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems, impacting many sectors of the American economy that depend on clean water. These environmental problems can be mitigated with the quick wash process, which selectively extract phosphorus from solid manure or municipal biosolids prior to land application. The quick wash process selectively recovers more than 80% of the phosphorus from solid waste while leaving most of the nitrogen in the washed solid residue. Consequently, the washed solid residue has a more balanced nutrient composition for crop production, and is safe for land application. The concentrated phosphorus materials contain more than 90% of its phosphorus in plant available form that provides a recycled phosphorus source for use as crop fertilizer. (more)

The quick wash process was invented by a team of scientists at the Coastal Plains, Soil, Water and Plant Research Center. The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted an exclusive license to Renewable Nutrients LLC, of Pinehurst, North Carolina, for commercial use of the process. The Center worked closely with Renewable Nutrients to develop approaches for commercializing the new technology for municipal biosolids and the poultry markets.

A pilot plant is under construction for the Borough of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, wastewater treatment plant, which annually produces 370 dry tons of biosolids, most of which are landfilled. While most technologies for phosphorus removal are not profitable, the recovery of phosphorus from biosolids using the quick wash process results in an annual revenue per plant of $70,000 to $500,000. Renewable Nutrients' business model consists of sublicensing the technology to each municipal treatment plant. In addition, the company will participate in the value of the phosphorus recovered as fertilizer material and nutrient credits.

For the agricultural market, a sublicense agreement with Triea Systems of Frederick, Maryland, has already secured $250,000 from Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) to accelerate efforts to introduce to the market the quick wash process for recovering phosphorus from animal and poultry waste. The commercial partner?s expectations to reach the market with a reliable and proven technology to recover phosphorus that has competitive advantages for commercialization were exceeded. For the first time, a technology developed for agricultural waste crossed discipline boundaries and is being adopted by the municipal wastewater treatment industry.