Accelerated release of potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and phosphorus (P) from surplus activated sludge (SAS) was investigated to develop a new system for the recovery of the elements. Anaerobic cultivation of SAS during 24 h released 78% of K and about 50% of Mg and P from SAS more effectively compared to aerobic cultivation (K: 40%, Mg: 15%, P: 15%). Furthermore, the addition of sodium acetate as an organic carbon source remarkably accelerated the release of K, Mg and P from SAS under anaerobic condition. However, no increase in the maximum release efficiencies was observed. The elements released from SAS could be transferred to separate liquid with the existing mechanical thickener and be recovered as MgKPO4 by some additional process. Furthermore, the removal of the elements from SAS would inhibit the formation of struvite causing the blockage of sludge transport pipe after anaerobic digestion process of thickened sludge.

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