Transformation of phosphorus and stabilization of heavy metals during sewage sludge incineration: the effect of suitable additives and temperatures

  • Rundong LiEmail author
  • Wenchao Teng
  • Yanlong Li
  • Jing Yin
  • Ziheng Zhang
Research Article


Phosphorus (P), an irreplaceable nutrient for all living organisms, is facing scarcity via phosphate resources. In this research, the effect of suitable additives and temperature on P and heavy metals speciation during sewage sludge (SS) thermochemical treatment was investigated. The results demonstrated that additives (CaO and MgO) could promote the conversion of non-apatite inorganic phosphorus (NAIP) to apatite phosphorus (AP). X-ray diffraction measurements indicated that the phosphorus mineral phase in sewage sludge ash (SSA) mainly was AP, with addition of MgO and CaO. Moreover, orthogonal testing revealed that the optimal molar ratio of Mg:Ca:P for P recovery as AP was 1:3.5:1 at 750 °C. Risk index results implied that the heavy metals in the phosphorus-enriched SSA have low potential ecological risk. Thermodynamic equilibrium calculations revealed that P reacted with the other metal ions was in the following order: Ca2+ > Mg2+ > Al3+ > Fe3+ > Zn2+ > K+.

Graphical Abstract


Sewage sludge ash Phosphorus recovery Conversion Environmental assessment Thermodynamic equilibrium calculations 



sewage sludge


sewage sludge ash


total phosphorus


organic phosphorus


inorganic phosphorus


apatite phosphorus


non-apatite inorganic phosphorus


P is associated with Ca or Mg


P is associated with Al or Fe


acid soluble fraction


reducible fraction


oxidizable fraction


residue fraction


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, China (No. 51276119 and No. 51576134).


  1. Adam C, Peplinski B, Michaelis M, Kley G, Simon FG (2009) Thermochemical treatment of sewage sludge ashes for phosphorus recovery. Waste Manag 29:1122–1128. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmad AA, Idris A (2014) Release and recovery of phosphorus from wastewater treatment sludge via struvite precipitation. Desalin Water Treat 52:5695–5703. Google Scholar
  3. Bairq ZAS, Li RD, Li YL, Gao HX, Sema T, Teng WC, Kumar S, Liang ZW (2018) New advancement perspectives of chloride additives on enhanced heavy metals removal and phosphorus fixation during thermal processing of sewage sludge. J Clean Prod 188:185–194. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen HC, Zhai YB, Xu BB, Xiang BB, Zhu L, Qiu L, Liu XT, Li CT, Zeng GM (2014) Fate and risk assessment of heavy metals in residue from co-liquefaction of Camellia oleifera cake and sewage sludge in supercritical ethanol. Bioresour Technol 167:578–581. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Childers DL, Corman J, Edwards M, Elser JJ (2011) Sustainability challenges of phosphorus and food: solutions from closing the human phosphorus cycle. Bioscience 61:117–124. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Donatello S, Cheeseman CR (2013) Recycling and recovery routes for incinerated sewage sludge ash (ISSA): a review. Waste Manag 33:2328–2340. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gao X, Chen CTA, Wang G, Xue QZ, Tang C, Chen SY (2010) Environmental status of Daya Bay surface sediments inferred from a sequential extraction technique. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 86:369–378. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gorazda K, Kowalski Z, Wzorek Z (2012) From sewage sludge ash to calcium phosphate fertilizers. Pol J Chem Technol 14:54–58. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hakanson L (1980) An ecological risk index for aquatic pollution control a sedimentological approach. Water Res 14:975–1001. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Han J, Kanchanapiya P, Sakano T, Mikuni T, Furuuchi M, Wang G (2009) The behaviour of phosphorus and heavy metals in sewage sludge ashes. Int J Environ Pollut 37:357–368. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. He XW, Fang ZQ, Wang YX, Jia MY, Song JY, Cheng YJ (2016a) Pollution characteristics, potential ecological risk and health risk assessment of heavy metal in a sewage treatment plant in Beijing. Acta Sci Circumst 36:1092–1098 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  12. He X, Zhang YX, Shen MC, Zeng GM, Zhou MC, Li MR (2016b) Effect of vermicomposting on concentration and speciation of heavy metals in sewage sludge with additive materials. Bioresour Technol 218:867–873. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Huang HJ, Yuan XZ (2016) The migration and transformation behaviors of heavy metals during the hydrothermal treatment of sewage sludge. Bioresour Technol 200:991–998. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kacprzak M, Neczaj E, Figalkowski K, Grobelak A, Grosser A, Worwag M, Rorat A, Brattebo H, Almas A, Singh BR (2017) Sewage sludge disposal strategies for sustainable development. Environ Res 156:39–46. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kidd PS, Domínguez-Rodríguez MJ, Díez J, Monterroso C (2007) Bioavailability and plant accumulation of heavy metals and phosphorus in agricultural soils amended by long-term application of sewage sludge. Chemosphere 66:1458–1467. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kong LJ, Han MN, Shih K, Su MH, Diao ZH, Long JY, Chen DY, Hou LA, Peng Y (2018) Nano-rod Ca-decorated sludge derived carbon for removal of phosphorus. Environ Pollut 233:698–705. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li RD, Zhao WW, Li YL, Wang WY, Zhu X (2015) Heavy metal removal and speciation transformation through the calcination treatment of phosphorus-enriched sewage sludge ash. J Hazard Mater 283:423–431. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lia JP, Gan JH, Hu YJ (2016) Characteristics of heavy metal species transformation of Pb, Cu, Zn from Municipal sewage sludge by Thermal Drying. Procedia Environ Sci 31:961–969. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pardo P, López-Sánchez JF, Rauret G (2003) Relationships between phosphorus fractionation and major components in sediments using the SMT harmonised extraction procedure. Anal Bioanal Chem 376:248–254. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Qian TT, Jiang H (2014) Migration of phosphorus in sewage sludge during different thermal treatment processes. ACS Sustain Chem Eng 2:1411–1419. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Schwitalla D, Reinmöller M, Forman C, Wolfersdorf C, Gootz M, Bai J, Guhl S, Neuroth M, Meyer B (2018) Ash and slag properties for co-gasification of sewage sludge and coal: an experimentally validated modeling approach. Fuel Process Technol 175:1–9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Shi WS, Liu CG, Ding DH, Lei ZF, Yang YN, Feng CP, Zhang ZY (2013) Immobilization of heavy metals in sewage sludge by using subcritical water technology. Bioresour Technol 137:18–24. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Siebielska I (2014) Comparison of changes in selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons concentrations during the composting and anaerobic digestion processes of municipal waste and sewage sludge mixtures. Water Sci Technol 70:1617–1624. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Stefaniuk M, Oleszczuk P (2016) Addition of biochar to sewage sludge decreases freely dissolved PAHs content and toxicity of sewage sludge amended soil. Environ Pollut 218:242–251. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Walter I, Martínez F, Cala V (2006) Heavy metal speciation and phytotoxic effects of three representative sewage sludges for agricultural. Environ Pollut 139:507–514. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wang L, Wang C, Ning P, Jiang M, Qin Y (2013) Phosphorus-fixation by hydrated lime in fluidized bed combustion of yellow phosphorus tail gas. J Cent South Univ (Sci and Technol) 44:835–842 (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  27. Wang C, Geng YM, Cheng L, Mao YX (2018) Speciation, mass loading, and fate of phosphorus in the sewage sludge of China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 175:97–103. Google Scholar
  28. Xu HH, He P, Gu WW, Wang GZ, Shao LM (2012) Recovery of phosphorus as struvite from sewage sludge ash. J Environ Sci-China 24:1533–1538. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Xu GR, Liu MW, Li GB (2013) Stabilization of heavy metals in lightweight aggregate made from sewage sludge and rivers sediment. J Hazard Mater 260:74–81. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Zhang J, Yu T, Zhang J (2017) Release of phosphorus from sewage sludge during ozonation and removal by magnesium ammonium phosphate. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24:23794–23802. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rundong Li
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Wenchao Teng
    • 1
  • Yanlong Li
    • 2
  • Jing Yin
    • 2
  • Ziheng Zhang
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.The Key Laboratory of Clean Energy Liaoning ProvinceShenyang Aerospace UniversityShenyangChina

Personalised recommendations