Phosphorous – the next big sustainability challenge, and the new technology that might save future generations from hunger

Today, the biggest challenge facing the humans is sustainability. As a species our population and success has been limited by the natural world around us. This changed in the mid-1800s with an explosion of the world population thanks to high yield agriculture, bringing with it an imbalance in natural systems and cycles.

Understanding the huge challenges of anthropogenic global warming and inherit limitations of non-renewable resources such as oil and gas is the biggest sustainability challenge that humans face today. However the need is urgent and there is scientific consensus which gives us an increasingly accurate understanding of the system limits, and guidance on how to avoid catastrophe.

This exponential population growth is in part due to the phosphorous fertiliser extracted from bird guano, and now mined and extracted from rocks, speeding up one part of the phosphorous cycle that enables consumption. Unfortunately, due to the geological timescales of the phosphorous cycle, this effectively limits the total phosphorous available to us, making it a non-renewable resource.

Today Phosphorous is abundant, and because of this we spew phosphorous into waterways and oceans, treating it with Alum or Ferric Chloride and discharging aluminium phosphate or ferric phosphate with no thought for the consequences, and the inevitable long term shortages due to the current abundance.

A newly invented technology, Nano-Active Magnesium Hydroxide ACTI-Mag Plus may hold the key to maintaining the balance within the phosphorous cycle, enabling capture within waste water treatment solids which can be recycled directly back into the food chain.

If you need to control phosphate within your wastewater, consider ACTI-Mag Plus as an environmentally friendly, and cost effective alternative to phosphate capture with heavy metals.

Michael Wheatland
Business Development Manager, Calix Limited