The evolution of the pyrolysis of sewage sludge in a fixed and a fluidized bed was analyzed using a novel measuring technique. This original measuring technique consists of installing the whole reactor over a precision scale, capable of measuring the mass of the complete reactor with enough precision to detect the mass released by the sewage sludge sample during its pyrolysis. The inert conditions required for the pyrolysis process were obtained supplying the bed with a nitrogen flowrate, and the bed temperature was adjusted to either 500 ºC or 600 ºC using a group of three electric resistors. The sewage sludge sample was supplied through the top of the bed in a batch of 10 g. The measurement of the mass released by the sewage sludge sample was employed to determine the evolution of the reaction rate during the pyrolysis, the total amount of volatile matter released, and the pyrolysis time. The pyrolysis tests of sewage sludge in the fluidized bed were conducted using two different bed materials of the same size but different densities: silica sand and sepiolite particles. The higher density of silica sand particles induces a flotsam behavior for the sewage sludge particles which move close to the bed surface. In contrast, the lower density of sepiolite produces a neutrally-buoyant behavior for the sewage sludge particles, which shows a proper circulation throughout the whole bed in this case. The analysis of the evolution of the pyrolysis process in both fluidized beds show that the pyrolysis is faster when buoyancy effects are negligible, i.e. in the bed conformed by sepiolite particles. Moreover, sepiolite was found to show an absorbent capability for the volatile matter released during the pyrolysis of sewage sludge.
Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), being a rich source of organic materials, can be used for agricultural applications as an important source of nutrients for soil and plants. This is also an alternative beneficial management practice for MSW generated in developing countries. In the present study, MSW treated soil samples from last four to six years at farmer’s field in Rohtak and Gurgaon states (Haryana, India) were collected. The samples were analyzed for all-important agricultural parameters and compared with the control untreated soil samples. The treated soil at farmer’s field showed increase in total N by 48 to 68%, P by 45.7 to 51.3%, and K by 60 to 67% compared to untreated soil samples. Application of sewage sludge at different sites led to increase in microbial biomass C by 60 to 68% compared to untreated soil. There was significant increase in total Cu, Cr, Ni, Fe, Pb, and Zn in all sewage sludge amended soil samples; however, concentration of all the metals were still below the current permitted (EU) limits. To study the adverse effect of heavy metals accumulation on various soil microbial activities, the sewage sludge samples (from wastewater treatment plant at Gurgaon) were artificially contaminated with heavy metal concentration above the EU limits. They were then applied to soil samples with different rates (0.5 to 4.0%) and incubated for 90 days under laboratory conditions. The samples were drawn at different intervals and analyzed for various parameters like pH, EC, total N, P, K, microbial biomass C, carbon mineralization, and diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) exactable heavy metals. The results were compared to the uncontaminated sewage sludge. The increasing level of sewage sludge from 0.5 to 4% led to build of organic C and total N, P and K content at the early stages of incubation. But, organic C was decreased after 90 days because of decomposition of organic matter. Biomass production was significantly increased in both contaminated and uncontaminated sewage soil samples, but also led to slight increases in metal accumulation and their bioavailability in soil. The maximum metal concentrations were found in treatment with 4% of contaminated sewage sludge amendment.
Anaerobic digestion is a well-known technique for sustainable energy recovery from sewage sludge. However, sewage sludge digestion is restricted due to certain factors. Pre-treatment methods have been established in various publications as a promising technique to improve the digestibility of the sewage sludge and to enhance the biogas generated which can be used for energy recovery. In this study, continuous flow microwave (MW) pre-treatment with different intensities were compared by using 5 L semi-continuous digesters at a hydraulic retention time of 27 days. We focused on the effects of MW at different intensities on the sludge solubilization, sludge digestibility, and biogas production of the untreated and MW pre-treated sludge. The MW pre-treatment demonstrated an increase in the ratio of soluble chemical oxygen demand to total chemical oxygen demand (sCOD/tCOD) and volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration. Besides that, the total volatile solid (TVS) removal efficiency and tCOD removal efficiency also increased during the digestion of the MW pre-treated sewage sludge compared to the untreated sewage sludge. Furthermore, the biogas yield also subsequently increases due to the pre-treatment effect. A higher MW power level and irradiation time generally enhanced the biogas generation which has potential for sustainable energy recovery from sewage treatment plant. However, the net energy balance tabulation shows that the MW pre-treatment leads to negative net energy production.
The efficiency of heavy metals removal from sewage sludge in bioleaching processes with heterotrophic, chemoautotrophic (sulphur-oxidizing) sludge cenoses and chemical leaching (in distilled water, weakly acidic or alkaline medium) was compared. The efficacy of heavy metals removal from sewage sludge varies from 83 % (Zn) up to 14 % (Cr) and follows the order: Zn > Mn > Cu > Ni > Co > Pb > Cr. The advantages of metals bioleaching process at heterotrophic metabolism were shown. A new process for bioconversation of sewage sludge into fertilizer at middle temperatures after partial heavy metals removal was developed. This process is based on enhancing vital ability of heterotrophic microorganisms by adding easily metabolized nutrients and synthesis of metabolites by growing sludge cenoses. These metabolites possess the properties of heavy metals extractants and flocculants which provide the enhancement of sludge flocks sedimentation. The process results in biomineral fertilizer of prolonged action with immobilized sludge bioelements. The fertilizer satisfies the EU limits for the sewage sludge of agricultural utilization. High efficiency of the biomineral fertilizer obtained has been demonstrated in vegetation experiments.