In Brief

The Challenge

Phosphorus minerals are depleting rapidly which threatens a global food crisis in the near future. The EU is under tremendous pressure to reduce reliance on imports of phosphorus ores and replace them with pure phosphates extracted from contaminated phosphate rock and from agricultural and domestic waste. The challenge is to radically change phosphate mining, processing and recycling in Ireland, the EU and later globally. A solution to this challenge will help sustain humanity in the future.  

The Solution

We propose an entirely new technological response for pure phosphate compounds from secondary sources: sewage sludge, animal/plant ash and low-grade ores. The key chemical step, deoxychlorination (DOC), will be combined with well-established industrial steps to form a closed-loop operation providing high-grade soluble inorganic phosphate fertilisers. The DOC technology will be reduced to practice in a prototype operation and the pure phosphate fertiliser will be field-tested. The promotion, global impact and dissemination of the new technology will be done in partnership with world’s leading industrial phosphorus stakeholders. 

The Team

  • Team Lead: Dr Kirill Nikitin, University College Dublin 
  • Team Co-Lead: Dr Simon Hodge, University College Dublin 
  • Societal Impact Champion: Peter Mooney, Dawn Meats Group
  • Societal Impact Champion: Ziv Kohav, ICL Group