Evaluation of the energetic potential of sewage sludge by characterization of its organic composition

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The composition of sewage sludge and, thus, its energetic potential is influenced by wastewater and wastewater treatment processes. Higher or lower heating values (HHV or LHV) are decisive factors for the incineration/gasification/pyrolysis of sewage sludge. The HHV is analyzed with a bomb calorimeter and converted to the LHV. It is also possible to calculate the heating value via chemical oxygen demand (COD), total volatile solids (TVS), and elemental composition. Calculating the LHV via the COD provides a suitable method. In contrast, the correlation of the HHV or LHV with the TVS is limited. One prerequisite here is a constant specific energy density; this was given with the types of sewage sludge (primary, surplus/excess, and digested sludge) investigated. If the energy density is not comparable with sewage sludge, for instance with the co-substrate (bio-waste, grease, etc.), the estimation of the heating value using TVS will fail. When calculating the HHV or LHV via the elemental composition, one has to consider the validity of the coefficients of the calculation equation. Depending on the organic composition, it might be necessary to adjust the coefficients, e.g. when adding co-substrates.

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