Naturally occurring in mineral deposits, rock formations, decaying plant and animal remains, and free ions in aqueous environments, phosphates occur in three forms, being orthophosphate, metaphosphate and organically bound phosphate. Phosphate utilised in commercial applications are termed apatite, which is a family of phosphates which exhibit high concentrations of chlorine, calcium and iron, among other elements in varying quantities and qualities.
One of the main commercial applications of phosphate is the removal of hazardous substance from wastewater and contaminated soils. Groundwater, surface water and soils can contain high levels of toxic chemicals which severely affect the quality of the water supply, as well as the surrounding environment. The utilisation of phosphate for waste water treatment, as well as in aquaculture, where it is used as a management tool to control nutrient levels and algal biomass in intensive farming are among the most popular commercial applications of phosphate.
In relation to waste water treatment, there are numerous methods to achieve the removal of toxic material, including oxidation, filtration, ion exchange, biological treatments and absorption methods. However, research has shown that the use of phosphate in an absorption process to remove toxic material from wastewater supplies is the most effective and suitable. Treating waste water with phosphate, due to the phosphates unique properties and qualities, has been proven to be stable under a wide range of environmental conditions. The ability to utilise a single method for waste water treatment under a range of temperature, flow and volume variables provides a distinct advantage for those charged with the responsibility of waste water treatment and management.
The use of phosphate in water treatment does not limit itself to large bodies of water. Many up-market dwellings and lodges now have decorative ponds, pools and even their own small lake. Golf courses are increasingly seeing the use of water hazards as both to increase the aesthetics and scenic attractiveness of the course while at the same time increasing the difficulty. Furthermore, water features are becoming regular sights within urban and regional parks. However, these water features, whether man-made or natural, tend to accumulate nutrient rich sediments and soluble ions which produce algal problems. Recent articles in newspapers though New Zealand have shown the issues that can arise when algal blooms and growths are not managed, including a complaints from local anglers who were frustrated by the fishing conditions and numbers of healthy fish in a number of key fishery lakes and rivers. Specially manufactured phosphate from leading suppliers of minerals, are able to remove nutrients from both the body of the water itself, while at the same time, being utilised as a sediment capping device.