Development of a Novel, Two-Step Process for Treating Municipal Biosolids for Beneficial Reuse

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    Modern municipal sewage waste treatment plants use conventional mechanical and biological processes to reclaim wastewaters. This process has an overall effect of converting a water pollution problem into a solid waste disposal problem (sludges or biosolids). An estimated 10 million tons of biosolids, which require final disposal, are produced annually in the United States. Although numerousdisposal options for biosolids are available, including land application, landfilling, and incineration, disposal costs have risen, partly because of increased federal and local environmental restrictions. A novel, thermomechanical biosolids pretreatment process, which allows for a variety of potential value-added uses, was developed. This two-step process first employs thermal explosivedecompression to inactivate or kill the microbial cells and viruses. This primary step also results in the rupture of a small amount of the microbial biomass and increases the intrinsic fluidity of the biosolids. The second step uses shear to effect a near-complete rupturing of the microbial biomass, and shears the nondigested organics, which increases the overall surface area. Pretreatedbiosolids may be subjected to a secondary anaerobic digestion process to produce additional fuel gas, and to provide for a high-quality, easily dewatered compost product. This novel biosolids pretreatment process was recently allowed a United States patent.
    Original languageAmerican English
    Pages (from-to)569-577
    Number of pages9
    JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology - Part A Enzyme Engineering and Biotechnology
    StatePublished - 1998

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/JA-580-25500


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