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Environmental & economic life cycle assessment of current & future sewage sludge to energy technologies.

Mills, N, Pearce, P, Farrow, J, Thorpe, Rex and Kirkby, NF (2013) Environmental & economic life cycle assessment of current & future sewage sludge to energy technologies. Waste Manag.

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The UK Water Industry currently generates approximately 800GWh pa of electrical energy from sewage sludge. Traditionally energy recovery from sewage sludge features Anaerobic Digestion (AD) with biogas utilisation in combined heat and power (CHP) systems. However, the industry is evolving and a number of developments that extract more energy from sludge are either being implemented or are nearing full scale demonstration. This study compared five technology configurations: 1 - conventional AD with CHP, 2 - Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP) AD with CHP, 3 - THP AD with bio-methane grid injection, 4 - THP AD with CHP followed by drying of digested sludge for solid fuel production, 5 - THP AD followed by drying, pyrolysis of the digested sludge and use of the both the biogas and the pyrolysis gas in a CHP. The economic and environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) found that both the post AD drying options performed well but the option used to create a solid fuel to displace coal (configuration 4) was the most sustainable solution economically and environmentally, closely followed by the pyrolysis configuration (5). Application of THP improves the financial and environmental performance compared with conventional AD. Producing bio-methane for grid injection (configuration 3) is attractive financially but has the worst environmental impact of all the scenarios, suggesting that the current UK financial incentive policy for bio-methane is not driving best environmental practice. It is clear that new and improving processes and technologies are enabling significant opportunities for further energy recovery from sludge; LCA provides tools for determining the best overall options for particular situations and allows innovation resources and investment to be focused accordingly.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Mills, N
Pearce, P
Farrow, J
Kirkby, NF
Date : 20 September 2013
DOI : 10.1016/j.wasman.2013.08.024
Uncontrolled Keywords : Economics, Energy recovery technologies, LCA, Sewage sludge
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 15:28
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 12:12

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