Sludge repurposed into coal to eliminate odors

The need to valorize sludge from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and the necessity to have more efficient deodorization systems have led to the Ecolodo project. 

Sacyr Water has developed this project in collaboration with the University of Alicante’s Water and Environmental Sciences Institute. The goal of Ecolodo project is to convert a low-value waste that causes management problems in our WWTPs, into a usable resource repurposed for its own odor management, as a circular economy strategy for the entire process.

The project was developed with the collaboration of the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) of the Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness, with FEDER funds. 

The use of materials technology and nanotechnology has led to the development of this usable resource, which is a new kind of activated carbon with over 98% efficiency.

Activated carbon is a material with a wide range of applications in water and odor treatment, thanks to its great capacity to adsorb organic compounds. 

These innovative carbons have been developed by pyrolysis, using digested sludge from a WWTP as a raw material and using nanotechnology for activation and more effective odor elimination.

A pilot was carried out at Helados Alacant to test out the technology. "To ensure adequate carbon behavior testing, a pilot plant was built with a configuration of three reactors in parallel (one reactor with commercial carbon, one with Ecolodo carbon, and another with a mixture of both)," explained Mercedes Calzada, specialist in industrial plants and environmental management at Sacyr Water.



"Results have allowed us to verify that thanks to the high iron content of WWTP sludge, the activated carbons obtained from them not only produce adequate adsorption of many pollutants, but this is enhanced by a catalytic effect. Even in lab phase, it was possible to verify that the composition helps to continue to eliminate even when saturated, even under high humidity conditions," says Mercedes.

"We created the carbons through a self-sustained process of low-emission pyrolysis, using biofuel and the non-condensable gas fraction. We partnered with GREENE, that provided its gasification expertise and industrial facility," she clarifies.



"The self-sustained production of carbons, manufacture cycles and carbon replacement, as well as their integration (pyrolytic furnace - deodorization reactor) into a single system, are future aspects to be defined based on the results of this project. Our aim is to scale it up in collaboration with other waste management or carbon manufacturing companies," explains Mercedes.

Ecolodo project: "Development of a novel adsorbent material and ecological deodorization system, from WWTP sludge with nanotechnology and circular economy techniques" is fully aligned with the New Circular Economy Action Plan for a cleaner and more competitive Europe, "less waste, more value".

  • Waste
  • Sewage treatment plants

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