Evaluation of an automated struvite reactor to recover phosphorus from source-separated urine collected at urine diversion toilets in eThekwini
In the present study we attempted to develop a reactor system to recover phosphorus by struvite precipitation, and which can be installed anywhere in the field without access to a laboratory. A reactor was developed that can run fully automated and recover up to 93% of total phosphorus (total P). Turbidity and conductivity signals were investigated as automation proxies for magnesium dosage, thus making laboratory phosphate measurements to determine the exact magnesium dosage unnecessary. Conductivity is highly influenced by the dosing parameters (molarity and pump speed) and turbidity is affected by particle size distribution issues. Algorithms based on both conductivity and turbidity signals were not able to detect the precipitation endpoint in real time. However it proved possible to identify the endpoint retrospectively from the conductivity signal, and thereafter to dose an algorithm-calculated volume of urine to use up the excess magnesium dosed.
Keywords: struvite precipitation, human urine, turbidity, conductivity, automation, magnesium dose, VUNA