Mapping the National Phosphorus Recovery Potential from Centralized Wastewater and Corn Ethanol Infrastructure

Kenneth Ruffatto, Seyed Aryan Emaminejad, Ankita Juneja, Chinmay Kurambhatti, Andrew Margenot, Vijay Singh, Roland D. Cusick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthropogenic discharge of excess phosphorus (P) to water bodies and increasingly stringent discharge limits have fostered interest in quantifying opportunities for P recovery and reuse. To date, geospatial estimates of P recovery potential in the United States (US) have used human and livestock population data, which do not capture the engineering constraints of P removal from centralized water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) and corn ethanol biorefineries where P is concentrated in coproduct animal feeds. Here, renewable P (rP) estimates from plant-wide process models were used to create a geospatial inventory of recovery potential for centralized WRRFs and biorefineries, revealing that individual corn ethanol biorefineries can generate on average 3 orders of magnitude more rP than WRRFs per site, and all corn ethanol biorefineries can generate nearly double the total rP of WRRFs across the US. The Midwestern states that make up the Corn Belt have the largest potential for P recovery and reuse from both corn biorefineries and WRRFs with a high degree of co-location with agricultural P consumption, indicating the untapped potential for a circular P economy in this globally significant grain-producing region. 2022 American Chemical Society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8691-8701
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 21 2022


  • calcium phytate
  • dry grind
  • nutrient recovery
  • plant-wide modeling
  • struvite
  • wet milling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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