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Netherlands to get phosphorus recycler
by Staff Writers
Vancouver, British Columbia (UPI) Dec 7, 2011

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A Canadian firm that recycles phosphorus from wastewater is aiming to open a second European plant in the Netherlands, a company official said this week.

Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies of Vancouver is close to striking an agreement with backers in the Netherlands to open a new plant there, Ostara board member Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told Water and Wastewater International Magazine.

"We are in talks with various groups in the Netherlands and we are very confident we'll be able to work with at least one of those groups to arrange an installation in the next year or so," he said.

If so, it would come on the heels of a deal struck last year with Britain's Thames Water to introduce new phosphorus-and-nutrient recovery technology at its Slough Sewage Works west of London in a $3.1 million project.

Kennedy, a U.S. environmental activist and venture capitalist, told the magazine there is much potential to extract valuable phosphorus from waste streams in "Germany, the Baltic States and also Scandinavia."

The technology aims to halt the inexorable dwindling of the world's phosphorus supplies -- a key ingredient in agricultural fertilizer needed to maintain global food security. Unlike oil, another finite natural resource, phosphorus can't be replaced with alternatives, so conservation of supplies is imperative, environmentalists say.

The Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, a collaboration among independent research institutes in Australia, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands, says the coming of "peak phosphorus" -- a global peak in phosphate rock reserves -- is likely to happen within the next 30 years, with the depletion of all reserves possible in this century.

About 75 percent of the world's known reserves are in the Western Sahara and are controlled by Morocco, which is restricting exports.

Because of dwindling supplies, prices for phosphorus have spiked, making fertilizer unaffordable to many farmers in developing nations.

Kennedy told Water and Wastewater that 80 percent of phosphorus used in agriculture "runs off, so it's a very wasteful use of the resource. It either becomes bound in the soil or it leaches and runs off into the local waterways, usually most of it during the first rainstorm."

One of most efficient ways to add to the phosphorus supply is to "mine" it from wastewater at sewage treatment plants. Ostara says its system works by removing a concrete-like mineral deposit called struvite that builds up on sewage treatment equipment and chokes pipes.

It processes the unwanted scale into a slow-release commercial fertilizer, thereby saving the utility money on cleaning costs and recovering phosphorus from a sustainable source.

Ostara President and Chief Executive Officer Phillip Abrary said several hundred plants in Europe are potential candidates for the technology.

The public-private partnership between Thames Water and Ostara in Britain will produce 150 tons per of fertilizer. Under the deal, the utility is paying only a monthly fee to Ostara -- less than what it is currently paying to deal with costly maintenance resulting from the damaging buildup of struvite in pipes.

Thames Water didn't need to make any capital investment in the system, Asset Management Director Piers Clark said.

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Livermore and Russian scientists propose new names for elements 114 and 116
Livermore CA (SPX) Dec 07, 2011
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has recommended new proposed names for elements 114 and 116, the latest heavy elements to be added to the periodic table. Scientists of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)-Dubna collaboration proposed the names as Flerovium for element 114 and Livermorium for element 116. In June 2011, the IUPAC officially ac ... read more

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