Water-soluble and solid-state speciation of phosphorus in stabilized sewage sludge

Xiao Lan Huang, Moshe Shenker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Three chemicals, ferrous sulfate (Fe-sul), calcium oxide (CaO), and aluminum sulfate (alum), were used to stabilize phosphorus (P) in fresh, anaerobically digested sewage sludge (FSS). The chemically stabilized sludge materials and biosolids compost (BSC) were compared with the FSS with respect to water-soluble phosphorus (WSP) content in its inorganic (WSPi) and organic (WSPo) forms as well as water-soluble organic carbon (DOC). Solid-state P speciation was further probed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) equipped with energy-dispersive X-ray elemental spectrometry (EDXS). Water-soluble P was effectively controlled by a wide range of Fe-sul or CaO additions to the sludge (Ca to P ratio = 3.47-17.72, Fe to P ratio = 1.01-16.53), but by only a narrow range (Al to P ratio = 1.04-2.87) of alum addition. The WSP content in the BSC was also depressed, but to a lesser extent. The pH in the treated sludge ranged from 3.0 to 12.5 and served as a key factor to control P chemistry. No correlation was observed between DOC and WSPo. No crystallized Ca-P minerals were detected in the CaO-stabilized sludge, but brushite crystallization seemed to be obtained by low addition of Fe-sul and alum. Variscite and strengite crystallization was obtained following high addition of Fe-sul or alum, as detected by XRD and SEM-EDXS. Adsorption of P by newly formed Fe-hydroxide seems to play an important role in the Fe-sul-stabilized sludge. We concluded that administration of the tested chemicals at the proper rate can effectively reduce the hazard of P release and leaching from sludge.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1895-1903
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2004


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