Advanced Technology for Energy, Plant Nutrients and Water Recovery at Wastewater Treatment Plants

Andrzej Chmielewski, Marcin Sudlitz, Monika Żubrowska-Sudoł

In present times, with increasing emphasis on circular economies, municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are considered resource recovery facilities. The targeted resources are water, biogas, and sludge, organic residuals containing nutrients and elements needed by plants (nitrogen and phosphorus). Sludge is a byproduct that constitutes the largest volume of all other byproducts obtained in wastewater treatment plants. Its processing and disposal are challenging for environmental engineers because of its complexity. Thus, quick development and implementation in industrial practice of sludge valorization and utilization technologies is required, where high nutrient content must be taken into account. Also, the occurrence of a variety of pathogens in sewage sludge is a matter of concern, even in the case of developed countries. The use of untreated sludge or wastewater in agricultural activities poses a serious risk of bacterial and parasitic infection in human beings. To overcome such issues, the application of ionizing radiation processing, especially electron beam (EB), can be considered a promising method. Its effectiveness in pathogen removal has been proven by researchers. Water radiolysis products created during irradiation of water are highly reactive and cause some effects such as DNA damage, 𝑂𝐻  radical production, etc. Additionally, ionizing radiation technologies in sewage sludge treatment enhance the efficiency of the methane fermentation process. Depending on specific needs, different types of ionizing radiation sources can be discussed. Based on the review information and our research results, the basic engineering parameters of hybrid installation have been presented as the conclusion of the report. In this technical solution, a notably effective additional step would be the use of EB irradiation, combined with conventional wastewater treatment, to achieve efficient removal of pollutants.

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