Abstract

Agricultural reuse of dewatered sludge is a valid route for sludge valorization for small and mid-size wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) due to the direct utilization of nutrients. A more stringent of German fertilizer ordinance requires the degradation of 20% of the synthetic additives like polymeric substance within two years, which came into force on 1 January 2017. This study assessed the use of starch-based polymers for full-scale dewatering of municipal sewage sludge. The laboratory-scale and pilot-scale trials paved the way for full-scale trials at three WWTPs in Germany. The general feasibility of applying starch-based ‘green’ polymers in full-scale centrifugation was demonstrated. Depending on the sludge type and the process used, the substitution potential was up to 70%. Substitution of 20–30% of the polyacrylamide (PAM)-based polymer was shown to achieve similar total solids (TS) of the dewatered sludge. Optimization of operational parameters as well as machinery set up in WWTPs is recommended in order to improve the shear stability force of sludge flocs and to achieve higher substitution potential. This study suggests that starch-based biodegradable polymers have great potential as alternatives to synthetic polymers in sludge dewatering.

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