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Bioprocessing of sewage sludge for safe recycling on agricultural land

The disposal and handling of sewage sludge are increasing problems in Europe due to increasing quantities of sewage sludge produced. A large amount of the sewage sludge contains small fractions of toxic chemicals, which result in problems with the safe use of the sewage sludge on agricultural land. From an ecological and economical point of view, it would be essential to establish methodologies that could allow sewage sludge to be re-used as fertilisers on agricultural land. Energy efficient biotreatment processes of organic waste are, therefore, of crucial importance. The Biowaste project aims to offer an integrated approach to conditioning sewage sludge for the removal of xenobiotics, and the safe application to agricultural land.

The objectives of the project are:
1) to characterise typical sewage sludge with respect to xenobiotic components
2) to determine analytical techniques suitable for qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the chemical species involved in the processes under investigation
3) to isolate, characterise and bioaugment bacteria that are able to degrade selected contaminating compounds under anaerobic and aerobic conditions for the decontamination of sewage sludge by bioprocessing
4) to apply aerobic, anaerobic and a combination of aerobic/anaerobic bioprocessing of sewage sludge
5) to develop a mathematical model to describe the biodegradation processes of the contaminating compounds, after establishing the kinetic parameters for the degradation of contaminating compounds
6) to use the bioprocessed sewage sludge in eco- and plant toxicology tests to evaluate the impact of the xenobiotics in the environment
7) to develop and apply methods to assess the cleanliness of the bioprocessing as a safe method for waste recycling.

The project manual has been completed, with guidelines for quality management and quality assurance.
A public website has been created to present the project and its partners, and is continually updated with the newest results from the Consortium.
Analytic techniques for measurement of organic contaminants have been calibrated between labs for high measurement quality.
Molecular techniques for measurement of specific bacteria have been further developed.
Existing reactor designs have been modifed and new reactors have been constructed for bioprocessing of organic contaminants.
Reports have been compiled on contaminants of sewage sludge throughout Europe.
A new test for toxicity and bioassay tests have been developed.


Scientist responsible for the project

Prof. JENS EJBYE Schmidt
Bygningstorvet Building 115
2800 Kongens Lyngby
Denmark - DK

Phone: +45 45251529
Fax: +45 45932850


Project ID QLRT-2001-01138
Organisation Technical University of Denmark
Area 5.1.1
Start date 10 January 2002
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 2 008 771 €
Total EC contribution   1 462 127 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

The partners

  • Recherche Innovation et Transfer de Technologie pour les Matieres Fertilisantes Organiques, France - FR

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