Environmental assessment of different dewatering and drying methods on the basis of life cycle assessment

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Sewage sludge is an inevitable product of wastewater treatment in municipal wastewater plants and its amount has increased dramatically due to the growing number of sewage systems users. This sludge needs to be adequately treated in order to decrease its hazardous properties and any negative influence on the environment. In this paper, gate to gate analysis, on the basis of life cycle assessment (LCA), was carried out in order to compare the environmental impact of alternative ways of sludge processing employing a dewatering press and three different kinds of dryers – belt dryer, container dryer and batch dryer. SimaPro 7.2 software and Ecoinvent 2.2 database were used to estimate the carbon footprint and energy balance of these processes. The main energy consumption in the scenarios analyzed is caused by the drying process. The solution based on application of the batch dryer allows a saving of 39.6% of energy compared with the most energy-consuming solution using a belt dryer. Sludge processing using belt and container dryers cause greater environmental burdens.

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