What is phosphate – and who needs it?
The answer? Everyone. Phosphate is an essential part of everyday life. It is highly sought after by farmers around the world and the majority of our nation’s phosphate products are made right here in Florida. There are currently 27 phosphate operation sites in Florida, yet only nine of them are currently active.
What is phosphate used for and why are phosphate products important?
Phosphate is essential to food production. Without it, there’d be less — and more expensive — food at the grocery store. Most commonly used for agriculture, phosphate products are present to help farmers grow more crops on fewer acres. Without domestic supply of phosphate products, Americans will have to rely on global competitors, often operating with less rigid environmentally friendly regulations.
However, thanks to phosphate operations in Florida, America is self-reliant. Not only does phosphate strengthen the supply chain in our communities, but it strengthens our economy too. The industry supports almost 13,000 Florida jobs and accounts for an estimated $5.03 billion in annual economic output.
What happens to it when we’re finished?
When phosphate operations are complete, the land reclamation begins. This means that the area used previously for phosphate operations can be made into public parks, farms, prairies, golf courses and conservation areas — just to name a few.
The phosphate production process creates a byproduct known as Phosphogypsum (PG). The byproduct is stored in gypstacks, which are heavily regulated storage structures for PG. Over 28 million tons of phosphogypsum is made each year, and 5 tons is produced per 1 ton of phosphoric acid.
Phosphogypsum doesn’t need to just sit in gypstacks — it can be put to safe and productive use. Scientists have identified 55 innovative ways to recycle or reuse phosphogypsum in gypstacks! Other countries recycle phosphogypsum to build roads, rebuild forests or use it in agriculture.
Today, scientists are researching methods to extract Rare Earth Elements (REE) from phosphogypsum stored in Florida’s gypstacks.
Rare earth elements found in phosphogypsum are essential components America needs for renewable energy technologies, electric vehicles, crucial defense technologies and for smartphones. Recycling phosphogypsum and extracting rare earth elements from gypstacks is yet another alternative to stacking it.
Learn more about the potential benefits of recycling phosphogypsum in gypstacks by visiting https://phosphateinnovation.com/recycle-and-rebuild/.