Saturday, 9 January 2016

Alternatives to Land Application

What alternatives are available then?  

Instead of simply spreading our cities' toxic sewage waste over farms and forests (future generations will depend on healthy soils) we should be looking at alternatives that meet certain goals - the alternatives should provide energy, provide a method of harvesting needed nitrogen and phosphorus, and of course they should eliminate as many of the pollutants as possible. 

Recently many countries are creating legislation demanding that these goals are met with respect to the sludges they generate.

The Federal Government of Germany has passed new Sewage Sludge rules as of October 2017- "We will phase-out the direct use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer on land and promote the recycling of Phosphorus and other nutrients" 

The Swedish government has recently made a similar pronouncement -  "A ban on spreading sewage sludge should not be an obstacle to the extraction of biogas. The aim is to recycle both energy and phosphorus from the sewage sludge without the risk of health and environmentally harmful substances coming into the environment"

Both gasification and pyrolysis are improving by leaps and bounds as  good "green" alternatives to land application. For more on these please see:

SLUDGEFFECT is a research and innovation project to investigate and develop practical ways to mitigate the harmful presences of hazardous substances of sewage sludge and e-waste plastic within a circular economy. And thereby contribute to increase the volume of sludge and e-waste plastic that can be the reused.
 By combining state-of-the-art knowledge and analysis of the presence of contaminants in sewage sludge fertilizers and e-waste plastic, with the literature and novel experimentation on how to remove hazardous substances through pyrolysis at high temperature (>700 C), the aim is to provide more than a proof-of-concept that hazardous substances risks can be mitigated through high temperature pyrolysis in Norwegian waste streams while making useful raw materials.

Optimisation of the co-combustion of meat–bone meal and sewage sludge in terms of the quality produced ashes used as substitute of phosphorites

"The environmental effect is the substitution of 8200 t of phosphorites used for the production of phosphoric fertilisers with ashes from the co-combustion of a mixture of MBM and Sewage Sludge"


Recover Phosphorus from Sewage Sludge - 


Biochar from Biosolids -

Renewable Energy solutions -

Advanced Pyrolysis Technology -

Next Generation Supercritical Water Oxidation

The Omniprocessor and Advanced Vapor Recompression Distillation

Pyrolysis of Biosolids / Biochar -

An energy recovery system (pyrolysis reactor) -  sustainable and efficient. 

Emergent Waste Solution -

Scientific American - The Future of Sewage is Power and Profits

Emergent Waste Solutions, Advanced Pyrolysis System - -

An Austrian System - making biochar fertilizer with Sludge -

GLES - Waste to Energy by pyrolysis  -

Great new technology -

Japan is making energy with their Sewer Sludge -

Toronto ponders making energy from sludge -

BBC NEWS - Poop into Profit

Dealing with sewage the Swiss way - sustainable and clean

Scottish town powers 200+ homes with electricity from Sewage Sludge - energy from sludge -

"Hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) is a process whereby sludge can be converted into high-density solid fuel under mild temperatures and pressures. In addition, waste heat from the HTC process can be used to preheat the raw materials and improve the recovery of energy. Zhao et al. demonstrated that, under mild conditions (200°C, 30 min), energy recovery from sludge via the HTC process is more than 50%, showing better performance than the mechanical dewatering technology. During the HTC process, copious amounts of toxicity organics are decomposed and the contents of S, N, and Cl are reduced. Moreover, some HMs are stabilized in the solid residual (SR). Therefore, HTC of SS for high-density and clean solid fuel preparation is a promising technology." (

February 2018  - Pyrolysis as an Economical and Ecological Treatment Option for Solid Anaerobic Digestate and Municipal Sewage Sludge

May 2019 - Swiss company uses gasification of sludge to mine it for phosphorous and capture biogas energy.

Making Jet Fuel from Sewage sludge -

Awesome new informational video - demonstrating the conversion of sewage sludge into automotive fuels and green hydrogen Biochar from Biosolids - "its feedstock will be biosolids, dried sewage as a feedstock, instead of waste wood. The reason is simple: people are willing to pay him to take it and it supports the business plan." Mine this sewage waste for its phosphate - Thermal Decomposition -

Large scale gasification of biosolids -

Make bricks out of these toxic biosolids -

Another city showing vision and environmental stewardship (Schenectady NY) …

"City officials said they would not negotiate on three key aspects of the public-private partnership:
No cost, no odor and no risk"
"Through the pyrolysis process, the city could save an estimated $669,000 each year, most of it through reductions in those disposal fees."

"Pyrolysis generates its own power, and the excess energy could potentially be sold to the city at a discounted rate."

"It's a sustainable, environmentally-friendly project"

"Some countries have banned land application because of the harmful substances found in biosolids such as microplastics, heavy metals, pharmaceutical residues, and harmful chemicals such as PFAS. It’s very likely that land application will be severely restricted or eliminated, so other options for disposing of or using biosolids need to be found." Biosolids as Energy Source  -


Recycling sewage sludge ash while recovering phosphorus and producing sustainable concrete

All partners expect that a full-scale production can be ready by 2023-2024, and it is expected that this project will expand to other countries in the world besides just Sweden, Denmark and Germany.


HTCycle -

"Every year, over 100 million tons of sewage sludge are produced in wastewater treatment plants around the world. Incineration of this sludge is costly, but landfilling it or using it in agriculture can have tremendous negative impacts on the environment. The HTC technology we have developed offers a sustainable, economically profitable solution for managing large volumes of sewage sludge. The high concentration of carbon in the sewage sludge presents a considerable energy potential that is yet to be properly exploited. Moreover, our innovative approach also produces biocoal, which can be processed to activated carbon and also recovers nearly 100% of the phosphorus, which further aids in the separation of heavy metals and makes it possible to extract flocculating agents used for wastewater treatment"
"The sewage sludge reuse generates phosphate recovery, heavy metals and pharmaceutical residues extraction" ……………………………...………………………………………….
Calgary to convert sewage sludge into biofuels - "The new plant will be North America’s first demonstration of Steeper’s proven Hydrofaction® technology – a patented thermochemical process that converts bio-organic wastes (including sewage sludge, food, or forestry wastes) into renewable biofuels. In addition to biofuel production, the process converts and eliminates wastewater contaminants such as microplastics and pharmaceuticals and isolates heavy metals"
Alberta has TWO new operations coming on board -
Sewage Sludge to Energy-
"In addition to biofuel production, the process
( Hydrofaction technology – thermo-chemical process) converts and eliminates wastewater contaminants such as microplastics and pharmaceuticals and isolates heavy metals"

#2 - see -

'Energy coming out of our butts': Alberta firms convert human waste into biofuel -

How to harness the power of biosolids to make hydrogen

" By harnessing the power of biosolids to produce a fully clean fuel from biogas—while simultaneously preventing greenhouse gas emissions—we can deliver a true environmental and economic win."


December 2020

"In Sweden, more than 11,500 vehicles already run on biomethane produced from sewage plants so there is already a model that suggests this could be a viable proposition in the UK"

(I will be posting more here in the near future as this is such an important concern)