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Resource recovery and biochar characteristics from full-scale faecal sludge treatment and co-treatment with agricultural waste

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Title: Resource recovery and biochar characteristics from full-scale faecal sludge treatment and co-treatment with agricultural waste
Authors: Krueger, BC
Fowler, GD
Templeton, MR
Moya, B
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Unsafe disposal of faecal sludge from onsite sanitation in low-income countries has detrimental effects on public health and the environment. The production of biochar from faecal sludge offers complete destruction of pathogens and a value-added treatment product. To date, research has been limited to the laboratory. This study evaluates the biochars produced from the co-treatment of faecal sludge from septic tanks and agricultural waste at two full-scale treatment plants in India by determining their physical and chemical properties to establish their potential applications. The process yielded macroporous, powdery biochars that can be utilised for soil amendment or energy recovery. Average calorific values reaching 14.9 MJ/kg suggest use as solid fuel, but are limited by a high ash content. Phosphorus and potassium are enriched in the biochar but their concentrations are restricted by the nutrient-depleted nature of septic tank faecal sludge. High concentrations of calcium and magnesium led to a liming potential of up to 20.1% calcium carbonate equivalents, indicating suitability for use on acidic soils. Heavy metals present in faecal sludge were concentrated in the biochar and compliance for soil application will depend on local regulations. Nevertheless, heavy metal mobility was considerably reduced, especially for Cu and Zn, by 51.2–65.2% and 48.6–59.6% respectively. Co-treatment of faecal sludge with other carbon-rich waste streams can be used to influence desired biochar properties. In this case, the addition of agricultural waste increased nutrient and fixed carbon concentrations, as well as providing an additional source of energy. This study is a proof of concept for biochar production achieving full-scale faecal sludge treatment. The findings will help inform appropriate use of the treatment products as this technology becomes more commonly applied.
Issue Date: 1-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance: 27-Oct-2019
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/75213
DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.115253
ISSN: 0043-1354
Publisher: Elsevier
Journal / Book Title: Water Research
Volume: 169
Copyright Statement: ©2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Biochar
Faecal sludge
Environmental Engineering
Publication Status: Published
Open Access location: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2019.115253
Article Number: ARTN 115253
Online Publication Date: 2019-11-01
Appears in Collections:Civil and Environmental Engineering
Faculty of Engineering