Abstract

Phosphorus is known to be a limited non-renewable resource. Phosphorus is obtained from phosphate rock, which is likely to be depleted in the next few decades. Therefore, it is very important to find alternate sources of phosphorus from which phosphorus can be recycled and recovered. This study focuses on the recovery of phosphorus from the sludge generated from a Continuous Bipolar Mode Electrocoagulation (CBME) system, used for treating a Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME). The sludge generated from the CBME system is leached with oxalic acid and sulphuric acid for phosphorus recovery with and without thermal treatment. Acid leaching was carried out at various time intervals using various liquid/solid (L/S) ratios of acids and sludge. CBME system caused a 73% removal of phosphorus from POME, where phosphorus is precipitated in sludge as iron phosphates or adsorbed as phosphates depending on the pH in the system. Acid leaching resulted in nearly 85% recovery of phosphorus with both sulphuric acid and oxalic acid for sludge combusted at 900 °C. Statistical analysis was carried out to find out the significance of the operational conditions on the phosphorous yield. Acid leaching results in the formation of orthophosphates, which can be used as a raw material for synthesis of chemical fertilizers.

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