Solubilization of struvite as a sustainable nutrient source for single cell protein production
By 2050, the world population will have considerably expanded and the life standard of many will increase, yielding a 50% higher demand in protein (FAO, 2011), and even increases of 82 and 102% for diary and meat products, respectively (Boland et al., 2013). To provide in this increasing demand we are highly dependent on our classical fertilizer to food chain which has a high environmental impact and lacks efficiency. Nutrient losses cause eutrophication and biodiversity loss and the input of resources is already beyond the boundaries of environmental sustainability (Steffen et al., 2015). Phosphate fertilizers are made from phosphate rock (apatite), of which the reserves are predicted to be depleted within 50 100 years if we continue business as usual (Cordell et al., 2009). Next to problems related to the unbalanced geopolitical distribution with dominance in China and Morocco, the decreasing quality of the remaining apatite will result in an increasing environmental impact of fertilizer production. Finally, our traditional food production model requires 30% of all ice-free land, 70% of all available freshwater and produces up to one third of the global greenhouse gas emission, of which 80 to 86% is linked to agricultural production (Vermeulen et al., 2012). To ensure food security, nutrient recovery from waste streams can provide an important strategy. In this context, struvite ( ) crystallisation may be applied to recover phosphorus, along with some nitrogen. Reusing these nutrients as agricultural fertilizer on the field will lead to considerable losses to the environment. In contrast, their use to cultivate micro-organisms, e.g. for single cell protein (SCP), offers to potential of a near perfect conversion efficiency (Moed et al., 2015). At this moment, microalgae represent the most developed type of SCP, and are a promising protein source due to their growth rate, high nutritional quality and extremely high nutrient usage efficiency (Becker, 2007). Reliable solubilisation data are essential to design a technological strategy for struvite dosage in bioreactors for SCP production. The effect on solubility and solubilisation rate of relevant physicochemical parameters was studied experimentally in aqueous solutions. Because pH and temperature greatly affect solubilisation kinetics they were set at a constant value of 7 and 20°C respectively. The effect of some parameters on struvite solubility was already studied (Bhuiyan et al., 2007; Ariyanto et al., 2014; Roncal-Herrero and Oelkers, 2011), but solubilisation rates were not yet considered and pH was not controlled at a constant value. The chemical parameters considered in this study include the concentration of different common ions ( and ), foreign ions ( and the chelating agent ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, EDTA) present in micro-algal cultivation media as well as ionic strength (as set by NaCl). The main physical parameter included was contact surface, through variation in initial particle size and as well as in struvite dosage concentration.
Source (journal)
Communications in agricultural and applied biological sciences / Universiteit Gent. Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen. - Gent, 2003, currens
Gent : 2016
81 :1 (2016) , p. 179-184
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Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
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Creation 16.05.2018
Last edited 07.10.2022
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