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Struvite

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Information @ a Glance

  • Struvite (ammonium magnesium phosphate) is a phosphate mineral with formula: NH4MgPO46H2O. Struvite crystallizes in the orthorhombic system as white to yellowish or brownish-white pyramidal crystals or in platey mica-like forms. It is a soft mineral with Mohs hardness of 1.5 to 2 and has a low specific gravity of 1.7.
  • It is sparingly soluble in neutral and alkaline conditions, but readily soluble in acid. Struvite urinary stones and crystals form readily in the urine of animals and humans that are infected with ammonia-producing organisms. They are potentiated by alkaline urine and high magnesium excretion (high magnesium/plant-based diets). They also are potentiated by a specific urinary protein, in cats.
  • Struvite is occasionally found in canned seafood, where its appearance is that of small glass slivers, objectionable to consumers for aesthetic reasons but of no health consequence.
  • Struvite precipitates in alkaline urine, forming stones. Struvite is the most common mineral found in urinary tract stones in dogs, and is found also in urinary tract stones of cats and humans. Struvite stones are potentiated by bacterial infection that hydrolyzes urea to ammonium and raises urine pH to neutral or alkaline values.
  • A very big concern for water waste management and recycling was the high concentrations of phosphorus.
  • In the right conditions phosphorus can be precipitated out as struvite. It requires the above mentioned elements. Magnesium being the limited factor for precipitation. The precipitation of struvite is more efficient in higher alkaline environments.
  • Urine contains phosphate (PO4) and ammonium (NH4). When magnesium (Mg) is added to urine, phosphate, ammonium and magnesium bind and form struvite (MgNH4PO46H2O), which can then be filtered out, collected, and dried into a powder.
  • Struvite can be applied to fields just like any other fertiliser. In a simple granulation drum , the powder can be transformed into granules. In granular form, a fertiliser is easier to apply and does not cake in moist environments.

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