Sludge Expected to Rise: 4 Wastewater Improvements for Sludge Treatment
Monday, November 16, 2020

Global wastewater and sludge production, treatment, and use are growing every year along with the rising population. With the amount of sludge produced today, the industry needs better treatment processes. There are more than a few promising technologies being put into use around the world.

What are some of the processes involved, and how do they help treatment plants maximize sludge treatment? From Copenhagen to California, here are four strategies in use now, around the world. Please read on for four wastewater improvements for sludge treatment.

1. Thicken Sludge to 4%

With the use of a gravity thickener, it's possible to thicken the sludge to a concentration of 4%. Doing this can increase the airflow efficiency of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. It would also allow removal of the contact stabilization plant if one is used.

This all allows the removal of the existing second-stage digester. Of course, this does not come without cost. Piping needs to be upgraded, and double-disk pumps required to pump the thicker, more viscous sludge.

2. Use Inorganic Coagulants

Inorganic coagulants are added to water in order to form aluminum or iron precipitates. The precipitate cleans the water by absorbing impurities as they fall. This is called the 'sweep-floc'.

Using inorganic coagulants can help increase sludge properties. Inorganic coagulants promote a higher dryness and lower sludge volume. This lower volume means a lower cost of disposal.

3. Thermal Hydrolysis

There are two varieties of thermal hydrolysis. The first is called Biothelys (Batch) Thermal Hydrolysis, which requires a large footprint and needs a large quantity of wastewater to work. However, the resale of the resultant biogas would be a large windfall.

The second type is Exelys Thermal Hydrolysis which requires a much smaller footprint. It also more than doubles the amount of biogas produced and reduces the waste at the end of the process. It costs much less to run, but it does cost more to develop.

4. Fuel Cells

Microbial Fuel Cells clean wastewater using bacteria. The natural byproducts of this process are charged electrons, which can be converted into electricity. The natural incentive to develop this technology is to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.

Microbial fuel cells, aside from eating a good amount of sludge out of wastewater, generate their own electricity. This means a byproduct of using this technology is that a plant where they are in use can offset a good about of their electricity cost. Couple this with the reduction of disposal of sludge costs, and you get a lean machine.

Sludge Treatment of the Future

The ever-rising cost of sludge treatment and disposal leads the industry to better technologies to reduce emissions and power consumption. With many new technologies embracing multi-function processes, this gives the industry far more flexibility for structure. Here's to a cleaner world!

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