Solid phosphorus phase in aluminum- and iron-treated biosolids

Xiao Lan Huang, Yona Chen, Moshe Shenker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Stabilization of phosphorus (P) in sewage sludge (biosolids) to reduce water-soluble P concentrations is essential for minimizing P loss from amended soils und maximizing the capacity of the soil to safely serve as an outlet for this waste material. The chemical form at which P is retained in biosolids stabilized by Al2(SO4)J-18H2O (alum) or FeSO4·7H2O (FeSul) was investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) equipped with energy-dispersive X-ray elemental spectrometry (EDXS) and by X-ray diffraction (XRD). Both treatments resulted in the formation of a Ca-P phase, probably brushite. Phosphorus was further retained in the alum-treated biosolids by precipitation of an Al-P phase with an Al/P molar ratio of about 1:1, while in the FeSul-treated biosolids, P was retained by both precipitation with Fe/P molar ratios of 1:1 or 1.5:1, and by adsorption onto newly formed Fe hydroxides exhibiting an Fe/P molar ratio of up to 11:1. All of these mechanisms efficiently reduced P solubility and are crucial in biosolids environmentally safe agronomic beneficial use for this waste product; however, each P phase formed may react differently in the amended soil, depending on soil properties. Thus, the proper P stabilization method would depend on the target soil.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)549-556
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


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