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VITRIFICATION: A SUSTAINABLE BIOSOLIDS MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVE

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Wastewater treatment systems, both industrial and municipal, produce large quantities of sludge which require disposal. Sludge disposal poses significant environmental liabilities, logistical problems, and economic burdens. Vitrification offers environmental and economic benefits to municipal and industrial wastewater treatment operations reducing long-term dependence on disposal and providing a comprehensive, integrated, and sustainable approach to biosolids management.

Minergy Corporation (Minergy) has developed and implemented several vitrification technologies for the recycling of high volume wastes such as paper mill sludge and municipal biosolids. These technologies perform mineral recovery from the waste material, converting them into construction material and industrial feed stocks which are inert, marketable products. Minergy's GlassPack vitrification process uses an oxygen-enriched atmosphere to improve melter temperatures, completely destroy organic contaminants, and greatly reduce the amount of exhaust gas. Exhaust flows are 95% less than typical multiple hearth or fluid bed technologies while also achieving significant control of air pollutants like particulate matter, NOx, CO and VOCs.

In the GlassPack Process, overall system efficiency is increased by pre-drying the feedstock (biosolids), to approximately 90% solids or more, before injection into the melting and combustion zone. In this zone, the organic component of the sludge is completely combusted, liberating a significant amount of heat energy. For typical municipal biosolids, once the operating temperature of 2400-2700° F is reached, the process is autothermal where energy released from combustion of the biosolids is adequate to keep the process going, all but eliminating the need for co-fire fuel. At these operating temperatures, the mineral (ash) component of the feedstock melts and is drained into a water quench tank forming an inert glass aggregate. Glass aggregate has many industrial and commercial uses including sandblasting grit, roofing shingle granules and asphalt paving.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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