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Front. Environ. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00008

A review of phosphorus removal technologies and their applicability to small-scale domestic wastewater treatment systems

  • 1School of Civil Engineering & Geoscience, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
  • 2School of Chemical Engineering & Advanced Materials, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
  • 3Northumbrian Water Group (United Kingdom), United Kingdom

The removal of phosphorus (P) from domestic wastewater is primarily to reduce the potential for eutrophication in receiving waters, and is mandated and common in many countries. However, most P-removal technologies have been developed for use at larger wastewater treatment plants that have economies-of-scale, rigorous monitoring, and in-house operating expertise. Smaller treatment plants often do not have these luxuries, which is problematic because there is concern that P releases from small treatment systems may have greater environmental impact than previously believed. Here P-removal technologies are reviewed with the goal of determining which treatment options are amenable to small-scale applications. Significant progress has been made in developing some technologies for small-scale application, namely sorptive media. However, as this review shows, there is a shortage of treatment technologies for P-removal at smaller scales, particularly sustainable and reliable options that demand minimal operating and maintenance expertise or are suited to northern latitudes. In view of emerging regulatory pressure, investment should be made in developing new or adapting existing P-removal technologies, specifically for implementation at small-scale treatment works.

Keywords: decentralised systems, phosphorous, EBPR, Photo-bioreactors, Domestic wastewater treatment, Physico-chemical processes

Received: 26 Jun 2017; Accepted: 26 Jan 2018.

Edited by:

Giulio Munz, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Reviewed by:

Nehreen Majed, University of Asia Pacific, Bangladesh
Alberto Mannucci, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Bunce, Ndam, Ofiteru, Moore and Graham. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. David W. Graham, Newcastle University, School of Civil Engineering & Geoscience, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, david.graham@newcastle.ac.uk