Blog: How does the FlashPhos concept work?

May 27, 2022

FlashPhos will demonstrate at a large scale a thermochemical process to sustainably produce high-quality white phosphorus (P4) and other valuable raw materials using sewage sludge as input material. The FlashPhos concept follows an economically and ecologically sound and climate-friendly circular economy approach. But how exactly does this work?

Transforming sewage sludge into valuable output materials

The FlashPhos concept consists of a row of well-known and innovative processes able to transform sewage sludge, muddy as it comes from the sewage plants, into white phosphorus and several other valuable materials, including a climate-friendly cement substitute. FlashPhos plants will be located at existing industrial plants, e. g. cement factories, to take advantage of the short distance for joint energy and material management.

Thus, with FlashPhos, we intend to offer one solution to all European countries that have neither a concept for sludge disposal nor for phosphorus recovery – which applies to almost all of the EU.

How do we do this? In short, we dry, grind and gasify the sludge. Then, we refine and granulate the remaining liquid slag to obtain mainly white phosphorus and a climate-friendly cement substitute. The former impurities, mostly metals, can also be transferred into usable forms in our high-temperature process, leaving almost no solid wastes to be disposed of.

You can access initial technical information about the FlashPhos process in two publicly available reports – the conceptual design of our pilot plant and the results of orienting drying-grinding experiments.

To perfectly integrate our technological concept into our surroundings, we dedicate one-third of our project time to find suitable input materials, open markets for the outputs and define industrial hosts for future FlashPhos plants all over Europe; at the same time, we evaluate and work on maximizing impacts on the European society and environment.


Who runs FlashPhos, and why are they so many partners?

The FlashPhos partners build out the whole value chain, from sewage sludge treatment engineers to white-phosphorus end-users and cement producers. Some of the partners are – to pick out only two –, Italmatch Chemicals, currently the largest European white phosphorus consumer, with sound know-how in white phosphorus production and a strong dedication to circular economy; the German foundry engineers of Herp, who have already constructed the P-recovery furnace for KRN Mephrec in Nuremberg. Moreover, 15 more partners bring expertise in the areas of thermal engineering, process simulation, sludge treatment and recycling, resources management, metallurgy and slag chemistry, furnace construction, facility planning, safety and environmental engineering, as well as innovation and communication. Find out about all 17 partners and their tasks in FlashPhos here.

For further information contact

Dipl.-Ing. Matthias Rapf

Project Coordinator