Performance of a Pilot-Scale Air Sparged Continuous Flow Reactor and Hydrocyclone for Struvite Precipitation and Removal from Liquid Swine Manure

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Shepherd, Timothy
Burns, Robert
Moody, Lara
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Raman, D. Raj
Morrill Professor
Stalder, Kenneth
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Animal Science

The Department of Animal Science originally concerned itself with teaching the selection, breeding, feeding and care of livestock. Today it continues this study of the symbiotic relationship between animals and humans, with practical focuses on agribusiness, science, and animal management.

The Department of Animal Husbandry was established in 1898. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Animal Science in 1962. The Department of Poultry Science was merged into the department in 1971.

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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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The objective of this research was to test a pilot-scale air sparged tank reactor (ASTR) and the ASTR in combination with a hydrocyclone (called the pilot-scale ASTR-hydrocyclone system) on two swine manure slurries for struvite-based (MgNH4PO4-6H2O) phosphorus removal and recovery. The pilot-scale ASTR system operated at flow rates of 80 to 115 L/min and was based on the bench-scale design from Shepherd et al. (2007). The ASTR effluent was processed using a hydrocyclone separator for struvite separation and total phosphorus (TP) recovery. The pilot-scale ASTR-hydrocyclone system provided a 92% reduction of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) in manure slurry from a swine finishing facility concrete storage tank and a 91% reduction of DRP in manure slurry collected from a swine finishing facility deep-pit under floor collection system. The pilot-scale ASTR-hydrocyclone system removed 18% of TP in swine manure from a concrete storage tank and 9% to 14% of TP in swine manure slurry from a deep-pit under floor collection system. The low TP recovery was attributed to the hydrocyclones inability to provide effective struvite separation as operated. Full-scale economics and implementation of the tested struvite-based phosphorus removal is discussed. A case study of a typical Iowa deep-pit swine production facility (10,000 head/year) indicated that the annual cost of struvite-based phosphorus removal using this system would be approximately $8.88/finished pig or $0.035/L manure slurry treated ($ 0.134/gal). This cost often exceeds producer's profit margins; this indicates that struvite-based phosphorus removal using this ASTR-hydrocyclone system in swine finisher manure slurries is not currently economically viable.


This article is from Applied Engineering in Agriculture, 25, no. 2 (2009): 257–267.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009