Recovering Energy From Biosolids



There’s a lot more to waste than it lets on. Aside from water treatment plants being able to turn sewage sludge to biosolids, a form of organic fertilizer, it could also help in producing renewable energy and preserving natural resources and fossil fuels.

In the past, waste turned into biosolids are simply disposed in landfills or through incineration. They are also sent to composting facilities and to water treatment plants, so they can be transformed into an organic type of fertilizer for agricultural land.But all of these processes would require the transportation of the waste from one place to another. This would cost a lot in terms of fuel and labor, and is not really applicable to many states who are working under a strict waste management budget.

Aside from the cost of disposing waste in such a manner, state laws and regulations have also become more stringent in past years, making it nearly impossible for waste to be transported from one state to another. Then, there’s also the burgeoning issue of landfill closures and the rising cost of waste management systems.

But the biggest problem of transporting and disposing waste is the restrictive county ordinances and regulations. This is the reason why many biosolids advocates are turning to technologies that could transform sewage sludge into renewable energy. One such technology is called the Steam/CO2 Reforming. It is a combustion-free system that converts biosolids into hydrogen, electricity, or other fuels like synthetic gas.

The most attractive aspect of the technology is its ability to process biosolids that have a high water content. Because the process uses steam to convert the biosolids, it needs moisture and does not require the biosolids to be dried up. Some technologies would only be able to process biosolids with only 10 percent moisture content. That’s important when you consider the amount of energy being used in the drying process.

Another feature that attracts environmentalists to the steam reforming technology is the scalability, which is the ability to deploy the technology at smaller scale. This makes it possible to test the technology through a pilot installation.

There’s another technology that transforms biosolids into “pellets,” which can be used as substitute for coal when making fire. These kinds of technologies will help bring biosolids to the forefront in the fight to conserve natural resources and in society’s continuous quest to find sources of renewable energies and fuel.

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