PHOSPHORCYCLE – New ways of recovering critical raw materials such as phosphorus
Phosphorus is an essential but limited raw material that cannot be synthetically produced or otherwise substituted. The European Union has no phosphorus resources of its own and is entirely dependent on imports of several million tonnes per year. The need and demand for phosphorus, due to its substantial use in agriculture, has been increasing for many years. Experts expect the “phosphorus peak”, at which the global production peak will be reached, to come as early as 2033.
Phosphorus is found in considerable quantities in municipal wastewater. This phosphorus reservoir could cover up to 20 percent of demand in Europe. However, recovery is not yet economically feasible. Since phosphorus prices on the world market are currently low, industrial applications remain unexploited.
In this project, Fraunhofer IMW is developing a strategy for building a sustainable European network of science, industry and practitioners.
In the medium term, this network will develop economically feasible and socially accepted solutions for the recovery of critical raw materials through joint research and innovation projects.
Here, Saxon partners play a central role: with its engineering and mining tradition, the Free State is well suited for the development of such innovations and the exploitation of the associated economic opportunity.