Wastewater treatment with starch-based coagulants for nutrient recovery purposes : Testing on lab and pilot scales

Ilaria Righetto*, Raed A. Al-Juboori, Juho Uzkurt Kaljunen, Anna Mikola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The interest in using natural coagulants for wastewater treatment has increased in recent years due to the environmental and health problems associated with the use of traditional coagulants. In this study, starch-based coagulants were tested to treat reject water produced by the dewatering of mesophilic digester sludge at the Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Finland. The goal of this treatment is to prepare the stream for the nitrogen recovery process with membrane contactor technology. Screening tests showed that PrimePHASE 3545 was the best coagulant, and the effective dosage and pH ranges were 10–20 ml/l of the 25% diluted starch and 8–10 pH values, respectively. The process was optimized using Response Surface Methodology (RSM). The best dosage and pH combination generated by RSM was 14.1 ml/l and 9.1, respectively. In these conditions, TN, TP, TOC, SS and VSS removal percentages were 18 ± 0.57%, 80 ± 0.99%, 28 ± 1.19%, 90 ± 3.37%, and 89 ± 2.35%, respectively. However, NH3-N concentration increased by 20 ± 1.7%, mainly due to pH increase. These results held true when tested on a pilot scale at Viikinmäki WWTP in a continuous process. The sludge produced with natural coagulant was found to be of a better quality compared to that of conventional coagulants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112021
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Membrane contactor
  • Natural coagulants
  • Nutrient recovery
  • Pilot scale
  • Starch
  • Wastewater


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