Scientists Validate New Technology That Transforms Sewage Sludge Into Fertilizer More Efficiently


The system, tested on an industrial scale, prevents foul odours and reduces by up to two months the treatment time for the organic matter deriving from the excess sludge, for its subsequent agricultural use.

World population growth and lifestyle are the main causes of the increase in the volume of wastewater. As a result of the treatment of these waters, millions of tons of sewage sludge are generated, filling landfills and generating pollution, unpleasant odours, and public health risks. To combat these issues, one of the most important alternatives is to transform sewage sludge, which has a high organic-matter content, into a resource that can be used for agricultural purposes as a crop fertilizer.

Research Group RNM-271 of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Córdoba, in conjunction with Research Group RNM-270 of the University of Granada, has successfully validated a new technology that transforms wastewater sludge more efficiently. The system, tested on an industrial scale, prevents the foul odours that are generated during the composting process. In addition, it reduces by up to two months the time needed to stabilise and sterilise the organic matter from the sludge and convert it into fertilizer.

This is a fledgling technology that uses a series of moveable and semi-permeable membranes, under which the composting process takes place. These covers allow molecules such as carbon dioxide to pass through, while blocking others such as ammonia, which causes the foul odours.

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