Recycling nitrogen from wastewater as a conventionally used product

Ragn-Sells’ innovation company EasyMining has developed a technique that removes and recovers nitrogen from wastewater. The technology is being demonstrated in a project, RE-Fertilize, with financial support from the EU LIFE programme.

25 Feb 2022

Up to now, water with a high nitrogen content, such as wastewater, has mainly been cleaned biological using bacteria that separate nitrogen from water – a process which is both costly and sensitive to disruption.

According to Anna Lundbom, Head of Marketing at EasyMining and project manager for the RE-Fertilize project, the currently used biologically processes just release the nitrogen into the atmosphere after removing it, while EasyMining’s process recycles the removed nitrogen.

- We want to recycle the nitrogen and use it over and over again. What we do is to capture more than 98% of the ammonium nitrogen and then convert it to a form, ammonium sulphate, that today is being used in the fertiliser industry, explains Anna Lundbom.

- As for all circular solutions, it is important to have partners from different parts in the value chain. In the RE-Fertilize, we partner with BIOFOS to secure that our process actually solves the problem for water treatment and with Lantmännen to secure that the product is usable for the agriculture, she continues.

Anna Lundbom, Head of Marketing at EasyMining Anna Lundbom, Head of Marketing at EasyMining at the inaugration of the LIFE RE-Fertilize pilot plant at Ragn-Sells treatment and recycling facility in Upplands-Bro outside of Stockholm, December 2021.

The method is being commercialised

2019 EasyMining’s RE-Fertilize project was granted SEK 19 million from the EU LIFE programme, the main funding organisation for environmental and climate action in the European Union, to demonstrate the patented method on a large scale.

In December 2021, the LIFE RE-Fertilize Project celebrated the grand opening of its demonstration plant at Ragn-Sells treatment and recycling facility in Upplands-Bro outside of Stockholm. The plant features two custom fabricated mobile units and has a capacity to process four cubic meters of water per hour. It's the first industrial-scale effort of the patented method developed by EasyMining that recovers resources from wastewater with high concentrations of ammonium nitrogen. The demonstration plant produces ammonium sulphate from the removed ammonium nitrogen.

The process the demonstration plant utilises can replace methods that produce emission of nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, and thus significantly lower a wastewater 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 Anna Lundbom.

The demonstration and assessment period for the pilot plant is set to run until September 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.

Read more on EasyMining´s website and on the RE-Fertilize project site.