The impact of advanced digestion on incineration of sewage sludge

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Courtesy of Cambi AS

Abstract

Traditionally, when incineratin sewage sludge, it was preferable to burn raw undlgested sludge, as digestion - by extracting some of the energy from sludge- subsequently reduce its calorific value. However, when considering incineration as part of a wider strategy, the desicion whether or not to include digestion becomes less clear. Since, virtually all of the requirements of incineration are directly related to throughput, i.e. quantity of flue gas produced; power required; consumption of chemicals; production of effluent from flue-gas abatement, then it is evident that upstream processing capable of reducing sludge quantity (i.e. digestion) will have a positive impact. Furthermore, whilst more energy is generated from raw sludge than digested at the incineration plant, if the energy extracted from digestion is also cinsidered, then more energy is recovered by combining digestion with incineration. Furhtermore, advanced digestion process exist which improve dewatering of the sludge to levels where the digested cake has significantly less water than the raw equivalent and this influence, the energy content of the sludge. United Utilites owns and operates a sludge incinerator known as the Mersey Valley Processing Centre (MVPC) in Widnes, which is being upgraded to burn 75,000 tonnes of digested dry solids of sludge per year. This paper presents details of studies conducted by United Utilities to determine if additional capacity could be gained within the incineration plant by installing advanced digestion on one of the feeder sites. The studies also compared raw to digested and advanced digested sludge incineration and quantified the impacts of these three modes of operation. Additionally, the work domonstrated that potentially 14,000 additional tonnes of sludge could be accounted for within the MVPC, due to combination of reduce load to incineration (by converting more sludge to biogas upstream) and altered dewatering characteristics of the cake entering the facility.

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