Phosphate and Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an essential part of living systems and due to its reactivity, generally exists in an oxidised form called phosphate.


In water treatment, phosphate is often added to drinking water at low levels to provide protection against lead build up in the water. In wastewater treatment, phosphorus is often present at relatively high levels in the influent (from detergents, fertiliser run off and human waste) and is therefore removed to prevent it being discharged into the watercourses. Too much phosphorus in natural water sources can lead to algal blooms which starve aquatic life of the oxygen they need.

Typically, phosphate is measured in a water treatment process using colorimetry. There are two different chemistries that can be used depending on phosphate levels expected. The low range phosphate is the Ascorbic acid method, the higher range chemistry is called the Vanadomolybdate method.


A new and novel technique for measuring total phosphorus and orthophosphate in wastewwater applications is magnetic resonance spectroscopy.


An alternative approach that can be used in wastewater treatment is to use an online UV-Vis spectrophotometer to characterise and quantify organics in real time, and with some laboratory testing, build a surrogate phosphorus parameter based on the organics.

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Products for this application


An industrial colorimeter for wastewater measurement of phosphate

Compass CPR coagulation control system

Feed forward coagulation control system using UV-Vis spectroscopy for optimising chemical phosphorus removal (CPR)

Online Colorimetric Analyser

3S analyser

A user friendly phosphate colorimeter for the drinking water industry


An all new online analyser for total phosphorus and orthophosphate in wastewater applications

Here is a related article

Ensuring compliance with metal and phosphorus discharge consents in wastewater

How a wastewater treatment works can comply with metal and phosphorus consents without large capital spending schemes using a Compass CPR coagulation control system.


What is magnetic resonance spectroscopy and how does it measure total phosphorus and orthophosphate?

Learn how the new Nanonord online analyser works and the number of parameters that can be measured using this technique


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