Acidification was used to dissolve phosphorus from digested and non-digested sludge from five wastewater treatment plants in order to make phosphorus accessible for subsequent recovery. More phosphorus was dissolved from digested sludge (up to 80%), with respect to non-digested sludge (∼25%) and the highest release was observed at pH 2. The acid consumption for digested sludge was higher than for non-digested sludge due to the presence of the bicarbonate buffer system, thus CO 2 stripping increased the acid consumption. In all the experiments, the sludge was exposed to acid for 1 h. For the five tested sludge types, 60–100 mmol o-P was released per added mol H 2SO 4. It was mainly iron and calcium compounds that accounts for the phosphorus release at low pH. The release of heavy metals was in general low (<30%) for all the wastewater treatment plant, as Zn, Cd and Ni showed the most critical release after acidification of non-digested sludge.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Pages (from-to)307-317
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Acidification
  • Heavy metals
  • Phosphorus
  • Sludge


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