Novel Cost-Effective Biochars for Phosphate Removal

Unmet Need: Safe and low-cost method for phosphate removal from liquid effluents

Billion-dollar businesses such as large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and fertilizer industries generate substantial quantities of wastes in the form of manure and contaminated waste run-offs responsible for releasing enormous amounts of nutrients such as phosphorous into our environment. Excessive phosphorous is a harmful pollutant that deteriorates water quality by causing eutrophication, thus endangering our environment. It is therefore imperative to develop safe, efficient, and low-cost technologies to remove and recover phosphate from waste streams. The use of cheap carbon derived from the pyrolysis of lignocellulosic materials (also known as biochars) are efficient adsorbers of phosphates, hence an effective tool to fight global warming and enhance soil fertility.

The Technology: Novel synthesis of biochars for phosphate removal

The inventors at Washington State University have designed a cost-effective single-step pyrolysis process to develop nitrogen-metal doped carbonaceous biochars for the efficient removal of phosphates from liquid effluents. A synergistic effect of nitrogen functionalities and metals on char surface/structure resulted in biochars with improved adsorption and high retention capacity for phosphates. Also, biochar enriched in phosphates from wastewaters can be directly applied to agricultural fields as a slow-release fertilizer to improve soil fertility and contribute to soil carbon.


  • Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
  • Fertilizer industries
  • Municipal wastewater systems
  • Natural water bodies
  • Agriculture and farming


  • Low-cost  carbonaceous biochar
  • Environmentally safe and low-risk application
  • Efficient removal of excess P
  • Phosphate rich biochars can be used as slow-release crop fertilizers
  • Improves soil fertility

Patent Information:
A patent application has been filed. 

Learn More

Deah McGaughey
Technology Licensing Associate
Washington State University
(509) 335-9502
Reference No: TECH-21/3381


Manuel Garcia-Perez
Michael Apasiku
Sohrab Haghighi Mood
Jean-Sabin McEwen

Key Words