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Special Issue "Phosphorus Circular Economy: Closing Loops through Sustainable Innovation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Engineering and Science".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gerald Steiner

1. Department of Knowledge and Communication Management, Danube-University Krems, Dr. Karl-Dorrek-Straße 30, 3500 Krems, Austria
2. Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA), Harvard University, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +43-(0)2732-893-2313
Interests: sustainability-oriented innovation systems/-processes; sustainable resource management; phosphate rock mining; organizational and regional innovation systems; organizational communication
Guest Editor
Mr. Bernhard Geissler

Department for Knowledge and Communication Management, Danube University Krems, Dr.-Karl-Dorrek-Straße 30, 3500 Krems, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +43-(0)2732-893-2329
Interests: global food security; sustainable phosphate rock mining and management; efficiency and performance benchmarking; operations research; closed-loop supply chain management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The necessary optimization of the predominately complex supply chain requires inevitable understanding of the underlying system dynamics; this holds especially true for the unique characteristics of phosphorus. The finiteness of the primary source phosphate rock requires a transdisciplinary approach in order to generate, utilize, and transfer knowledge between stakeholders. On its own, no discipline will be able to solve the underlying problems of future P supply, therefore, we aim to include the overall supply chain, from extraction, mining, processing, to the use phase. Recycling holds an exceptional position since it is of greater importance for closing potential loops. Therefore, unlike previous works, we will not focus solely on the recycling of sewage sludges, as previous studies show enormous potential, especially during mining and beneficiation processes. Furthermore, we want to emphasize the interrelations between the single phases of the supply chain, particularly the role of market prices and the role of technology which both leading to often unconsidered underlying dynamics. From our perspective innovation will be a key element for technological developments, prices of raw materials and intermediates, and, most importantly, for closing loops all along the supply chain.

Prof. Dr. Gerald Steiner
Mr. Bernhard Geissler
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable phosphorus management
  • closed-loop supply chains
  • transdisciplinarity
  • efficiency
  • circular economy
  • innovation

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Phosphorus Supply Chain—Scientific, Technical, and Economic Foundations: A Transdisciplinary Orientation
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1087; doi:10.3390/su10041087
Received: 12 March 2018 / Revised: 31 March 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
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Abstract
Natural mineral resources, such as phosphates, represent global assets of tremendous economic value to stakeholders. Given its special characteristics and its essentiality for all life on Earth, phosphorus (P) bears additional value to society as it is both indispensable and not substitutable. Most
[...] Read more.
Natural mineral resources, such as phosphates, represent global assets of tremendous economic value to stakeholders. Given its special characteristics and its essentiality for all life on Earth, phosphorus (P) bears additional value to society as it is both indispensable and not substitutable. Most peers in the field, as well as those coming to phosphorus research, are aware of the complex underlying system dynamics of the P supply chain. In view of the manifold problems involved, scientists from various disciplines as well as practice need to find (new) ways to generate, utilize, transfer, and integrate knowledge. This manuscript serves as a best-practice example as it originates from a long-lasting science/practice collaboration and is the result of a mutual learning process. As a cornerstone of the special issue on “Phosphorus Circular Economy: Closing Loops through Sustainable Innovation” we provide state-of-the-art scientific knowledge as well as practical expert insights from the perspectives of geology, technology, economics, and policy making. This manuscript shall help scientific peers, the public, respective companies, and policymakers to address the issue of sustainable phosphorus management. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Fertilizer Effect of Phosphorus Recycling Products
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1166; doi:10.3390/su10041166
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 13 April 2018
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Abstract
Between 2004 and 2011 the German Government funded 17 different projects to develop techniques of phosphorus recycling from wastewater, sewage sludges, and sewage sludge ashes. Several procedures had been tested, such as precipitation, adsorption, crystallization, nano-filtration, electro-dialysis, wet oxidation, pyrolysis, ion exchange, or
[...] Read more.
Between 2004 and 2011 the German Government funded 17 different projects to develop techniques of phosphorus recycling from wastewater, sewage sludges, and sewage sludge ashes. Several procedures had been tested, such as precipitation, adsorption, crystallization, nano-filtration, electro-dialysis, wet oxidation, pyrolysis, ion exchange, or bioleaching. From these techniques, 32 recycling products were tested by five different institutes for their agronomic efficiency, that is, their plant availability, mainly in pot experiments. This manuscript summarizes and compares these results to evaluate the suitability of different technical approaches to recycle P from wastes into applicable fertilizers. In total, 17 products of recycled sewage sludge ashes (SSA), one meat and bone meal ash, one sinter product of meat and bone meal, one cupola furnace slag, nine Ca phosphates from crystallization or from precipitation, Seaborne-Ca-phosphates, Seaborne-Mg-phosphate, and 3 different struvites were tested in comparison to controls with water soluble P, that is, either single super phosphate (SSP) or triple super phosphate (TSP). Sandy and loamy soils (pH: 4.7–6.8; CAL-P: 33–49 ppm) were used. The dominant test plant was maize. Phosphorus uptake from fertilizer was calculated by the P content of fertilized plants minus P content of unfertilized plants. Calculated uptake from all products was set in relation to uptake from water soluble P fertilizers (SSP or TSP) as a reference value (=100%). The following results were found: (1) plants took up less than 25% P in 65% of all SSA (15 products); (2) 6 products (26%) resulted in P uptake of 25 and 50% relatively to water soluble P. Only one Mg-P product resulted in an uptake of 67%. With cupola furnace slag, 24% P uptake was reached on sandy soil and nearly the same value as TSP on loamy soil. The uptake results of Ca phosphates were between 0 and 50%. Mg-P products from precipitation processes consistently showed a better P supply in relation to comparable Ca-P compounds. With struvite the same P uptake as for water soluble P was reached. The fertilizer effect of the tested P recycling products can clearly be differentiated: TSP = struvite > Mg-P = sinter-P > Ca-P, cupola-slag > thermally treated sewage sludge ashes > meat-and-bone meal ash = Fe-P. Full article
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Open AccessReview What Is the Optimal and Sustainable Lifetime of a Mine?
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 480; doi:10.3390/su10020480
Received: 17 December 2017 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 11 February 2018
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Abstract
The first stage of the circular economy, mining, is examined from the perspective of sustainability. The authors discuss how to maximize the use of phosphate rock, a primary commodity. To attract investment capital in a market economy system, a mine has to operate
[...] Read more.
The first stage of the circular economy, mining, is examined from the perspective of sustainability. The authors discuss how to maximize the use of phosphate rock, a primary commodity. To attract investment capital in a market economy system, a mine has to operate profitably, i.e., its lifetime must be optimized under economic conditions, for example, according to Taylor’s Rule. From a sustainability perspective, however, the lifetime should extend as long as possible and the grades mined be as low as possible. The authors examine methods for optimizing a mine’s lifetime under economic conditions according to practical experience and learning effects to optimize exploration and exploitation. With the condition of sustainability, a recently developed concept of cut-off grade for a layered phosphate deposit is examined and considerations for prolonging a mine’s lifetime are discussed. As there are big losses from the current and potential future value chains above and below the current cut-off grade, we argue that the losses and use efficiency of phosphorus are key parts of a circular economy. Full article
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