Technical, economic and environmental assessment of sludge treatment wetlands
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Sludge treatment wetlands (STW) emerge as a promising sustainable technology with low energy requirements and operational costs. In this study, technical, economic and environmental aspects of STW are investigated and compared with other alternatives for sludge management in small communities (<2000 population equivalent). The performance of fullscale STW was characterised during 2 years. Sludge dewatering increased total solids (TS) concentration by 25%, while sludge biodegradation lead to volatile solids around 45% TS and DRI24h between 1.1 and 1.4 gO2/kgTS h, suggesting a partial stabilisation of biosolids. In the economic and environmental assessment, four scenarios were considered for comparison: 1) STW with direct land application of biosolids, 2) STW with compost post-treatment, 3) centrifuge with compost post-treatment and 4) sludge transport to an intensive wastewater treatment plant. According to the results, STW with direct land application is the most cost-effective scenario, which is also characterised by the lowest environmental impact. The life cycle assessment highlights that global warming is a significant impact category in all scenarios, which is attributed to fossil fuel and electricity consumption; while greenhouse gas emissions from STW are insignificant. As a conclusion, STW are the most appropriate alternative for decentralised sludge management in small communities.
CitationUggetti, E. [et al.]. Technical, economic and environmental assessment of sludge treatment wetlands. "Water research", Gener 2011, vol. 45, núm. 2, p. 573-582.