Australia opens plant to turn human waste into fertilizer
Wastewater treatment plant. The idea of reusing organic matter or waste in industrial processes and other initiatives is not new, and several interesting projects have emerged over the past few years.
Thomas Imo | Photo library | Getty Images
An Australian plant has been opened that converts human waste into fertilizer and energy, and project participants hope this will cut carbon emissions and save money.
Located at the Loganholm Wastewater Treatment Plant in Logan City, Queensland, the biosolid gasification plant was developed by Logan Water, Logan City Council’s water enterprise.
According to the council, the A$28 million (about $20 million) facility “is emitting wastewater at extremely high temperatures.” The Australian Renewable Energy Agency provided $6 million in funding for the project.
The final product of the process is odorless biochar, which can be used as a fertilizer in agriculture, among other things. In a statement Tuesday, the council called the facility “the first of its kind in Australia.”
Logan Water worked with a number of partners to supply a gas generator for the project. A key component of the project was the installation of two industrial dryers built in Germany by the Dutch firm ELIQUO. Each dryer weighs 34 metric tons and is 18 meters long.
“The gasification process includes dehydration, drying and high-temperature treatment of biological solids (sewage sludge),” the council said in a statement. “The heat generated in the process is then captured and used in the drying step.”
Prior to the opening of the facility, trucks hauled the sewage sludge to another facility where it was repurposed as a low-grade fertilizer.
“Operating cost savings and carbon credits will return nearly $1 million annually to the City of Logan, while a new revenue stream will be created from the sale of biochar,” the council said in a statement. Carbon emissions will be reduced by about 6,000 metric tons per year, he added.