Student: Evan Savage

Project: Fertilizer from Wastewater: Biological Enhanced Phosphorous Removal and Steps to Commercialization

View: Research Poster (PDF)

Institution: Lafayette College

Major: Civil Engineering

Advisor: Art Kney


Nitrogen and phosphorous play complicated roles in the modern world. Both nutrients are essential for agriculture and are applied in vast quantities as industrially produced fertilizer. The need to recycle nitrogen and phosphorus in municipal wastewater is clear, and there is a huge potential to increase the amount of recycling that occurs over the next several decades. Struvite production from wastewater centrate and biosolids is an attractive technology to address this issue. Building off research that has demonstrated struvite production, we tested several strains of bacteria for removal of additional phosphorus from biosolids using a combination of aerobic and anaerobic digestion. Preliminary results indicate certain bacteria can extract phosphorous biosolids, but methodological challenges indicate significant further research is needed. Additionally, I conducted customer interviews of wastewater treatment plant operators and review of existing commercialization of phosphorous removal to identify challenges and opportunities to eventual commercialization of this technology. This technology is attractive to some WWTP operators, but may not be suited to many plants. The primary concerns for most operators was cost, followed by regulatory compliance. Several companies successfully employ struvite production technologies and have opened plants in the last two years. Their public data could provide useful preliminary inputs to the simplified technoeconomic model developed for this research project that may be able to identify target customers. 

Evan Savage

About Evan Savage

Evan Savage is a senior at Lafayette College studying Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has worked in Dr. Arthur Kney’s lab since 2018 on nutrient recycling from municipal wastewater. Evan also works at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, on decision making under deep uncertainty and other decision support projects for grid decarbonization. Next year, Evan will pursue a graduate degree in energy systems engineering. Outside of academics, Evan is involved in sustainability, serving as the President of the Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection club, and the President of the Lafayette Crew Team. Evan is from Boulder, Colorado, and loves hiking, backpacking, and trail running.