Posted on 08/09/2023 in Fire Safety 2023
Challenges for sustainable phosphorus chemistry

Chris Slootweg, University of Amsterdam

The phosphorus cycle today exceeds planetary boundaries and leads to widespread water quality deterioration (eutrophication). Nearly all phosphorus use is in agri-food (fertilisers, animal feed, human food) and fire safety applications are < 0.5% of global phosphorus consumption. Fire safety should adopt the same Nutrient Circular Economy objectives.

Here in Zurich, in 2013, the population voted 94% in favour of a new sewage sludge incinerator with phosphorus recovery from the sewage sludge incineration ash.

A challenge for sustainable fire safety, without using halogenated chemistry, is that most phosphorus PIN FRs are derived from P4 (“White Phosphorus” / elemental phosphorus) produced in electro-reducing furnaces, consuming coke, with high energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. Organophosphorus PIN FRs are generally today produced from P4 using the halogenated intermediate PCl3. Chris Slootweg is a co-founder of the Amsterdam University spinoff SusPhos. He showed the aim to produce organophosphorus FRs from recovered inorganic phosphate chemicals such as struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate) precipitated from sewage sludge liquAll Mediaroomors.

See J. van Dijk et al., Chemosphere 296 (2022) 134050 DOI.

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