3. BioSC Spotlight: Phosphorus recovery and cycling


“BioSC Spotlight“ event on phosphorus recovery and cycling for an independent and sustainable bioeconomy took place at RWTH Aachen

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On June 15, 2018, the third event in the “BioSC Spotlight“ series took place in Aachen. 45 participants extensively exchanged views about phosphorus recycling. Scientists from academia and industry held a total of seven specialist lectures.

The event was opened by Prof. Ulrich Schwaneberg, the deputy spokesman of the Bioeconomy Science Center, a center of excellence. Subsequently, keynote speaker Dr. Rainer Schnee from the German Phosphorus-Platform e.V. gave a detailed overview of the current possibilities for phosphorus recovery and perspectives for future establishment.

In the first thematic session, “Phytases for phosphate recovery from plant residues”, Prof. Lars Blank from RWTH Aachen presented the BioSC project P-ENG, in the framework of which phytases were optimized to degrade phytate contained in rapeseed cakes and the released phosphorus was stored using yeast. Carolin Block from the University of Bonn presented the results of economic studies about market opportunities for phosphorus obtained this way. Dr. Anna Joëlle Ruff from RWTH Aachen presented the BioSC project PhytaPhos, in which sugar beet residues were treated with optimized phytases to degrade the contained phytate to phosphorus and the treated residues were successfully used as fertilizer.

The second thematic session, “Nutrient transfer from waste water to algae”, dealt with the recovery of phosphorus from waste water but also addressed the necessary further development of phosphorus analytics. Prof. Ulf Theilen from the Technical University of Middle Hesse presented an impressive pilot project on phosphorus recycling using micro algae in the sewage treatment plant of a small town. Dr. Peter Mojzeš from the University of Prague gave an introduction to Raman spectroscopy and explained the possibilities offered by this method for in situ detection of phosphorus in individual cells. Prof. Alexei Solovchenko from the University of Moscow initially reported on the BioSC project AlgalFertilizer, in which micro algae were used to take up phosphorus from waste water and the algae biomass was then successfully distributed as fertilizer. Subsequently, he presented basic studies on the uptake of phosphorus in micro algae and cyanobacteria and showed which research gaps need to be closed to develop and establish phosphorus recovery using these organisms as a standard method.

Both lectures and the engaged discussions reflected the high topicality and relevance of the topic of phosphorus recycling. The research needs and possibilities not yet exploited were a common theme of discussion. Like preceding events, this BioSC spotlight provided a framework for inter- and transdisciplinary exchange to a thematic field that contributes to the implementation of a sustainable bioeconomy.

The next BioSC spotlight on the topic of “Plant health” takes place on October 29, 2018 in Aachen.

Source: BioSC


Impressions of the event