Recovering valuable nutrients (e.g., P and N) from waste materials has been extensively investigated at the laboratory scale. Although it has been shown that struvite precipitation from several manure sources contributes to nutrient management practices by recovering valuable nutrients and preventing them from reaching water bodies, it has not been widely applied in commercial (i.e., farm) scales. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the struvite recovery process from the liquid portion of the anaerobically digested dairy cow manure generated in Wisconsin, USA, dairy farms using life cycle assessment methodology for both bench- and farm-scale scenarios. The struvite precipitation process involves the use of additional chemicals and energy; therefore, investigating upstream impacts is crucial to evaluate the environmental costs and benefits of this additional treatment process. Results indicate that up to a 78% impact decrease in eutrophication potential can be achieved when P and N are recovered in the form of struvite and are applied in lieu of conventional fertilizers, rather than using the liquid portion of the anaerobically digested dairy manure as a fertilizer. Additionally, significant differences are identified in the majority of environmental impact categories when the struvite precipitation process is modeled and evaluated in a farm-scale setting. Future work should expand to evaluate the overall environmental impacts and trade-offs of struvite recovery application, including the anaerobic digestion system itself at the farm scale. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2021;17:292-304. © 2020 SETAC.
Keywords: Dairy manure; Life cycle assessment; Nutrient management; Scale up; Struvite.
© 2020 SETAC.