Phosphorus recovery as K-struvite from a waste stream: A review of influencing factors, advantages, disadvantages and challenges

Environ Res. 2022 Nov;214(Pt 3):114086. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.114086. Epub 2022 Aug 12.


Currently, the depletion of natural resources and contamination of the surrounding environment demand a paradigm shift to resource recycling and reuse. In this regard, phosphorus (P) is a model nutrient that possesses the negative traits of depletion (will be exhausted in the next 100 years) and environmental degradation (causes eutrophication and climate change), and this has prompted the scientific community to search for options to solve P-related problems. To date, P recovery in the form of struvite from wastewater is one viable solution suggested by many scholars. Struvite can be recovered either in the form of NH4-struvite (MgNH4PO4•6H2O) or K-struvite (MgKPO4•6H2O). From struvite, K (MgKPO4•6H2O) and N (MgNH4PO4•6H2O) are important nutrients for plant growth, but N is more abundant in the environment than K (the soil's most limited nutrient), which requires a systematic approach during P recovery. Although K-struvite recovery is a promising approach, information related to its crystallization is deficient. Here, we present the general concept of P recovery as struvite and details about K-struvite, such as the source of nutrients, factors (pH, molar ratio, supersaturation, temperature, and seeding), advantages (environmental, economic, and social), disadvantages (heavy metals, pathogenic organisms, and antibiotic resistance genes), and challenges (scale-up and acceptance). Overall, this study provides insights into state-of-the-art K-struvite recovery from wastewater as a potential slow-release fertilizer that can be used as a macronutrient (P-K-Mg) source for plants as commercial grade-fertilizers.

Keywords: K-struvite; NH(4)-struvite; Phosphorus recovery; Slow-release fertilizer; Wastewater.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fertilizers
  • Phosphates / chemistry
  • Phosphorus* / chemistry
  • Struvite
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Wastewater* / chemistry


  • Fertilizers
  • Phosphates
  • Waste Water
  • Phosphorus
  • Struvite