Saxony's Environment Minister Commissions PARFORCE Phosphorus Recovery Plant

Saxony's Minister for the Environment Mr. Thomas Schmidt (l.) and Rector
TU Bergakademie Freiberg is driving the development of processes to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge.

Saxony's Minister for the Environment, Mr. Thomas Schmidt, visited TU Bergakademie Freiberg on December 5, 2017 to commission the PARFORCE demonstration plant. The PARFORCE plant was designed to recover phosphoric acid – a raw material with a wide range of uses in the chemical industry – from various phosphate-containing feedstocks. Mr. Schmidt started up the plant by filling it for the first time with phosphate-containing waste products from wastewater treatment. The demonstration plant can process up to one metric tonne of feedstock per day, and was installed in the course of the foundation of a spin-off company to demonstrate the technical scalability of the process.

TU Bergakademie Freiberg presented this innovative procedure in August 2017 as part of the simul+ future initiative from Saxony’s State Ministry for the Environment and Agriculture.

"I am deeply impressed by the successful research and development work at the Institute of Technical Chemistry at TU Bergakademie Freiberg. With these and other projects, the scientists led by Prof. Dr. Martin Bertau have demonstrated quite impressively how their expertise in chemistry can be harnessed in modern substance conversion and separation processes for secondary raw material technologies," said Minister Schmidt.

Indeed, the new technology is particularly interesting because it provides the possibility for recovering phosphorus from magnesium ammonium phosphate (MAP) – and from the ash of incinerated sewage sludge. This will likely be of great interest to operators of sewage treatment plants, as the amended Sewage Sludge Ordinance will, in the future, oblige them to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge.


According to the new Sewage Sludge Ordinance (AbfKlärV, in force since October 2017), it will not be allowed to spread sewage sludge on agricultural land from 2029 onwards. In addition, all larger sewage treatment plants will be obliged to introduce measures to recover phosphorus – an obligation that will also apply to a number of sewage treatment plants in Saxony. Researchers from Freiberg are now presenting a technology for the recovery of phosphorus in the form of phosphoric acid.

The PARFORCE process developed at the Institute of Technical Chemistry at TU Bergakademie Freiberg not only processes sewage sludge ash, but is also flexible enough to process calcium phosphates and struvite, which accumulate as residual substances in sewage treatment plants. The phosphoric acid produced is a base chemical for a range of processes and is widely used in the chemical industry.

Phosphorus recovery is an important field of research for both the environment and agriculture, which is why the future-oriented simul+ initiative from Saxony’s State Ministry for Environment and Agriculture is so dedicated to it. The goal of the simul+ initiative is to bring researchers together in order to develop innovative projects in the field of environment and agriculture and put them into practice more quickly, to promote technological progress, and to use resources even more sustainably. 

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(This report is a press release from Saxony’s State Ministry for Environment and Agriculture from December 5, 2017.) 

Contact person:

Dr. Peter Fröhlich, Tel.: +49 (0)3731 39-3663, E-mail: peter [dot] froehlichatchemie [dot] tu-freiberg [dot] de

Chemistry Professor Dr. Martin Bertau with rector Prof. Dr. Barbknecht
Dr. Peter Fröhlich with university benefactor Dr. Erika Krüger
Saxony’s Environment Minister Thomas Schmidt views the PARFORCE demonstration
Chemistry Professor Dr. Martin Bertau (l.) explains the operating principles
Chemistry Professor Dr. Martin Bertau presents the PARFORCE demonstration
Saxony's Minister for the Environment Thomas Schmidt