Factors Influencing Inhibitory Effect of Alginic Acid on the Growth Rate of Struvite Crystals

  • Lin WeiEmail author
  • Tianqiu Hong
  • Tianhu Chen
  • Xiaoyang Li
  • Qiang Zhang


Phosphorus-rich sludge is one of most suitable raw materials for phosphorus recovery as slow release fertilizers by struvite crystallization. However, alginic acid as a surrogate for extracellular polymeric substances in the sludge has been proved to adversely inhibit struvite crystallization. To quantitatively evaluate the inhibitory effect, the study aimed to investigate the influence of the concentration of alginic acid (0–250 mg/L), reactant concentration (2.5–3.5 mmol/L), pH (8.0–9.5), and ionic strength (0.01–0.2 mol/L NaCl), on the inhibition of the growth rate of struvite crystals, which was accurately determined by constant composition technique. The results indicated that the growth rate of struvite crystals substantially decreased with increasing the concentration of alginic acid, thereby adversely affecting the quantity and quality of struvite crystals. Moreover, as reactant concentration or pH increased, the growth rate of struvite crystals showed a considerable increase, whereas the weaker inhibitory effect of alginic acid was observed. Conversely, the increase of ionic strength drastically reduced the growth rate of struvite crystals, but moderately enhanced the inhibitory effect. Our study provides an effective theoretical foundation for deriving high-quality struvite crystals as slow release fertilizers from the phosphorus-rich sludge commonly containing a considerable number of organic pollutants.


Struvite Crystal growth Supersaturation Ionic strength Alginic acid 


Funding information

This study was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41130206).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Nanomineralogy and Environmental Material, School of Resources and Environmental EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  2. 2.Analysis and Measurement CenterHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina

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