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Phosphate can be precipitated from wastewater effluent by forming a slow
release fertilizer called struvite. Old technology.

On Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 8:06 AM, Jason Evans <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Interesting piece on Slate.com that dives into the importance of
> fertilizers, and a European toilet designed to recycle phosphorus:
>
> http://www.slate.com/id/2258112/entry/2258053/
>
> So even though the phosphorus atoms never disappear, they're not available
> as fertilizer. The world has between 4 billion and 8 billion tons of
> phosphate reserves, and we extract one-eighth of a billion tons per year.
> So simple arithmetic says we could "run out" of phosphorus in about 30
> years. The end could come even sooner if we ramp up biofuel production,
> since switchgrass, corn, and other biofuel crops will require loads of
> phosphorus-rich fertilizer. And unlike nitrogen, there's no other ready
> source than mining.
>
> What can we do? There's scrimping, of course, but humans almost never do
> that well, (See peak oil.) We prefer technical solutions. One promising
> strategy calls for recycling P. And the easiest way to do so is to recycle
> pee—through a European technology called NoMix toilets...
>
> -Jason
>