The PYROCHAR project brings together five SMEs and three research institutions to address the increasingly pressing issue of sewage sludge disposal in Europe. PYROCHAR will provide small municipalities and their waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) with an economically and environmentally sound solution for the treatment and disposal of their sewage sludge.
The implementation of European Directives for waste water treatment, while improving general quality and management of wastewater in the Union, has led to a situation in which, today, 10 million tonnes of sewage sludge are produced annually across the 26 member states.
More than 60% of the WWTPs in Europe service small municipalities. For these plants, the established sludge treatment and disposal options, developed specifically for large treatment plants, are too complex and expensive to provide on-site practical solutions.
Because of this, small WWTPs face a number of challenges presented by sewage sludge:
• They must comply with EU directives for wastewater treatment and sludge management.
• The costs of sludge treatment, storage and transport to composting/incineration facilities, farming or to larger WWTPs for further treatment are high.
• New technological solutions and those in development are focused on medium to large scale WWTPs. The adaptation of these to small scale plants requires investment and investigation that are simply not prioritised.
• There is a high level of public mistrust of sewage sludge and its reuse, which widespread fears about adverse effects on the environment and human health.
The PYROCHAR technology will thermochemically treat sewage sludge, converting it to biochar (biomass-derived charcoal) and synthesis gas (syngas) in a system with low operation and maintenance costs and compliant with EU regulations. The PYROCHAR technology’s re-use of energy and resources will offer the perfect solution for small municipalities in the €2 billion European marketplace of sewage sludge management.
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