Phosphorus is an important, life-giving element and is often used for plant growth in an agricultural setting. Scientists at CSIRO have developed a new technique that captures phosphorus from waste water at much higher concentrations than previously.
Phosphorus in waterways can produce algal blooms, even at the low levels, and must be removed from waste water. Using a method called enhanced biological phosphorus removal and recovery (EBPR-r) the team enriched a group of bacteria, known as polyphosphate accumulating organisms, that can carry phosphorus from waste water to recovery streams.
They successfully managed to produce four times the concentration of phosphorus in the recovery stream than in diluted waste water and are continuing research to improve these results. The news is good for both waste water treatment and fertiliser producers who can use the captured phosphorus.