The decreasing sources of important nutrients needed for food production is a problem all over the world. Today, only a small amount is recycled, meaning important resources is going to waste. EasyMining’s technologies to extract materials from waste is a part of the solution of creating a more circular society and securing future food production.
Started as a mistake
EasyMining’s journey started back in 2007, when Yariv Cohen, now Head of Research and Development at EasyMining, found the solution to what later became EasyMining’s first patented solution, the CleanMAP, by a mistake in the lab. The technology makes it possible to extract ammonium phosphate from mining waste or other sources in an energy-efficient way.
EasyMining has continued to develop since then and today, the company holds several patents with different solutions for a circular society. In 2012, the first successful test of Ash2Phos, where phosphorus and metals are recovered from ash, was conducted, and in 2016, the Ash2Salt process was presented. The technology washes fly ash so that three different salts are extracted and become commercial products. In Project N, nitrogen is extracted from wastewater through a chemical method and is used as fertiliser.
Solutions to a global issue
Phosphorous is a limited resource and is vital for life on the planet. It is a crucial nutrient for food production and agriculture stands for a large part of the global demand. The question of how to recycle phosphorous and use the resources to reduce the environmental damages to air, soil and water is a major question for countries all over the world. The EU relies on imports from countries such as China and the US to meet the phosphorous demand needed to produce food.
With a capacity to recycle an equivalent of 25 % of Sweden’s phosphorous need, one of EasyMining’s facilities will create a circular solution for phosphorous in Sweden and reduce the harm to the environment.
Ash2Phos – circular phosphorous management
Large amounts of the limited resource phosphorus end up in manures and urban waste, mainly in sewage sludge and slaughterhouse waste. Some of the phosphorus is taken back into the system by distributing sewage sludge to the farmland. This creates problems since the sludge can contain heavy metals, microplastics, pharmaceuticals and other substances that can be harmful to humans and nature.
The sludge can also be used for soil production or be incinerated, creating ash. The high content of metals has up until now created an obstacle for possible applications for this phosphate-rich ash. With EasyMining’s solution, the sludge ash can be transformed into raw material for phosphorus extraction, meaning that a circular system is created for the precious phosphorous. This is done by turning phosphorous in wastewater to crystals, which can then be reused in agriculture, without contaminating the soil with unwanted substances. The technology extracts more than 90 per cent of the phosphorus in the sewage sludge after incineration.
In addition to the phosphorus, the process can recover precipitation chemicals and at the same time remove heavy metals. Due to the continuous creation of the raw material, the process allows for profitable plants.
Lately, EasyMining has received international attention due to their groundbreaking technologies. In 2019, EasyMining was granted financing from the EU LIFE Programme for their technology on nitrogen removal and recovery from e.g. wastewater. At the beginning of 2020, the company was awarded “Innovator of the year”, thanks to the nitrogen removal process. EasyMining was also nominated to the Food Planet Prize for their work on recycling of important nutrients in agriculture.
EasyMining currently has a pilot plant and its laboratory in Uppsala, north of the capital of Stockholm, but is looking to expand. Earlier this year, the company applied for an environmental permit for a large facility in the Swedish city of Helsingborg to extract phosphorous from sludge, and the company will continue to expand internationally. In September 2020, EasyMining signed a partnership with Gelsenwasser, a large German utility company, for the expansion of Ash2Phos in Germany.
EasyMining’s journey has just begun and the company is a part of the solution to one of the biggest problems that society is facing. With new technology, EasyMining can help reduce the climate impact and secure the future need for essential nutrients needed for people and planet.
Interested in EasyMining’s solutions? Contact them here.