What is struvite

In this article, we’ll delve into what struvite is, where it typically occurs, and the problems it can create in wastewater and biogas plants. We’ll also examine how Altum’s ZPD ultrasound solution can prevent struvite buildup, boost operational efficiency, and lower maintenance expenses.

What is struvite?


Struvite, or magnesium ammonium phosphate (often referred to as MAP), is found in crystal form and is white to yellowish or brownish white in color. It forms in environments where ammonia, magnesium, and phosphate concentrations are high, coupled with appropriate, alkaline pH levels.

Where is struvite found and when does it pose an issue?


Struvite is most commonly found in wastewater treatment facilities, due to high concentrations of MAP ions found in wastewater. Struvite poses a significant challenge in wastewater and sewage treatment because the anaerobic conditions used in these processes release these ions from waste materials, enabling struvite to form and build up.

Struvite can also cause fouling in biogas manufacturing processes, which typically process organic waste materials containing high levels of nitrogen (in the form of ammonium), magnesium, and phosphate. These facilities also employ anaerobic conditions to treat this material and turn it into biogas, which often leads to an increase in pH levels, creating alkaline conditions.

In these conditions, optimal for struvite formation, struvite crystals can form large deposits, and can then scale various equipment. Fouling and scaling can significantly hinder operation efficiency by causing clogging issues as well as reducing heat transfer capabilities. This leads to increased downtime, costly maintenance, and less overall production.

What can struvite be used for?


Struvite can also be a useful compound. It has especially been observed to be useful in fertilization, as phosphorus is one of the key ingredients in plant growth and is usually included in fertilizers. Struvite contains phosphorus, but also magnesium and nitrogen, which also act as important nutrients for crops. Struvite is thus a viable fertilizer, and there are ongoing studies about collecting it from wastewater.

How can Altum help with struvite fouling?


Fortunately, struvite fouling can be solved with the help of Altum’s ZPD (Zero Process Downtime) ultrasound solution. When preventing struvite fouling, Altum’s solution works by creating an ultrasonic field in the equipment which prevents the foulant from attaching to the surfaces. Altum’s solution is software-guided to ensure precise control over the ultrasound and the best possible results.

We have achieved great results at a biogas plant operated by our customer Ductor. At this plant, struvite fouling in the pipelines, plate and frame heat exchangers, and pumps led to cleaning breaks every one to two days. Cleaning was performed with CIP (Clean-in-place) using citric acid and high-pressure wash.

By implementing our solution, the plant has been able to:

  • reduce downtime for cleaning from 2 hours per day to just 2 hours per month.
  • reduce CO2 emissions by 155 tons per year.
  • reduce citric acid use by over 6 tons per year.

You can read more about the case here.

Ready to solve your struvite fouling issues and reach similar results? Contact us today!

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