Award-winning breakthrough in phosphorus recovery

What is the most sustainable and reliable way to recover phosphorus from wastewater? The jury for the project innovation competition at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition 2022 decided that one of the most promising technologies is ViviMag®, granting it the silver award in the “Breakthroughs in Research & Development” category, with 203 submissions from 52 countries.

As a nutrient, phosphorus is a critical resource, required for agricultural fertilization as well as various industrial process applications. On the other hand, phosphorus in wastewater represents a serious environmental challenge as it can cause eutrophication or overfertilization of water bodies if not removed with due diligence. The European Commission has yet again listed phosphorus on the EU Critical Raw Materials List. Recovering phosphorus locally from municipal wastewater will support Europe’s ambitions to become more independent from raw materials.

ViviMag® – a name you will want to remember. The development started in 2013, with fundamental research by Wetsus, the European center of excellence for sustainable water technology, and Delft University of Technology, who identified vivianite as a key mineral in wastewater treatment plants. Vivianite, being a paramagnetic element, allows for recovery from sewage sludge using magnetic separation equipment.

Soon after the first R&D work started, Kemira and several other private companies along with municipal water utilities joined the project. The first successful pilot trial was completed in the city of Breda in the Netherlands by the Waterschap Brabantse Delta water board.

Pilot in Schönebeck, Germany

As the patent owner, Kemira is now taking the lead to upscale this innovative solution. A pilot installation, commissioned by Kemira, has been running full-scale at the wastewater treatment plant in Schönebeck, Germany in partnership with Veolia. With rising international attention due to the recent success stories, several municipalities were coming to Schönebeck to see the technology in action. Further installations are planned across Europe and a first demonstration plant in the Netherlands is soon to be modeled.

Mobile pilot unit for ViviMag® technology at the wastewater treatment plant in Schönebeck, Germany.

Anna Haarala and Outi Grönfors from Kemira at the wastewater treatment plant in Schönebeck, Germany where ViviMag® technology is being piloted.

“This prestigious award for the ViviMag® technology is a major recognition from the water sector. It supports Kemira’s ambition to deliver high-quality, sustainable and circular solutions for removing and recovering phosphorus from wastewater”, says Jean-Christophe Ades, Senior Marketing Manager, Municipal Market for Kemira Industry & Water EMEA.

For more information, please contact

Jean-Christophe Ades

Senior Manager, Water treatment
Industry & Water EMEA, Kemira
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