From the inauguration of the pilot plant for nitrogen removal and recovery.
From the inauguration of the pilot plant for nitrogen removal and recovery.

Unique pilot plant for nitrogen removal and recovery opens

A pilot plant for an innovative new process that removes and recovers nitrogen from wastewater was launched on Wednesday, 8 December 2021. Based at Ragn-Sells Högbytorp’s treatment and recycling facility in Upplands-Bro outside of Stockholm, the pilot plant features two custom fabricated mobile units and has a capacity to process four cubic meters of water per hour.

10 Dec 2021

This pilot plant is the first industrial-scale effort of the patented method developed by EasyMining, an innovation company in the Ragn-Sells Group, that recovers resources from wastewater with high concentrations of ammonium nitrogen.

According to Anna Lundbom, head of marketing at EasyMining, the currently used biological-based processes just release the nitrogen into the atmosphere after removing it, while the process applied by the nitrogen pilot plant captures it for use in for example fertilisers.

”We want to keep the nitrogen and use it over and over again. What we do is to capture the ammonium nitrogen and then convert it to a form that can be used in the fertiliser industry”, she explains, “thus sending it back to agriculture, closing that loop and saving energy and resources.”

What’s more, the process the pilot plant utilises would replace methods that produce emission of nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) and thus significantly lower a water treatment facility’s climate footprint.

"If we are serious about creating a sustainable society, we have to use more of the raw materials we have already extracted. Wastewater is a goldmine, and this project is a great example of an innovative new process that removes and recovers nitrogen from wastewater," says Lundbom.

Along with EasyMining and Ragn-Sells, other companies in the partnership are the Swedish agricultural cooperative Lantmännen and the Danish wastewater utility company BIOFOS. Lantmännen is evaluating the end product of the process, ammonium sulphate, for its potential use in creating a more climate-friendly fertiliser; while BIOFOS is adapting the pilot plant to run on reject water from the dewatering of sewage sludge as its Lynetten facility, the largest wastewater treatment facility in Denmark.

"Cooperation across the value chain is key to circular transformation, therefore we are pleased that this project lead by EasyMining now have a demonstration plant up and running for an innovative and sustainable wastewater treatment solution here at Högbytorp," says Mikael Hedström, CEO of Ragn-Sells Treatment & Detox.

The demonstration and assessment period for the pilot plant is set to run till the summer of 2022. It will be running on landfill leachate water at Högbytorp outside Stockholm until March 2022. In April 2022, the demonstration plant will be moved to the BIOFOS´s Lynetten facility in Denmark.