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An economic evaluation of biological removal of heavy metals from wastewater sludge

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An economic evaluation was performed for various sludge management practices, including the biological process of metal solubilization for digested and undigested sludges, and the traditional methods of sludge management (landfill, incineration, co-incineration, and the land spreading of liquid or dewatered sludges for agriculture).

Biological solubilization (also called bacterial leaching), including lime neutralization and land spreading, was less expensive for undigested than for digested sludge, and was competitive with land spreading of non-decontaminated dewatered sludge for a plant treating 388 000 m3/d of wastewater. These two management practices are approximately equivalent and are less costly than all other options considered. However, for a plant treating 20 000 m3 of wastewater per day, metal solubilization was 43% more costly than the frequently practiced application of dewatered sludge onto agricultural land. For both plants (388 000 and 20 000), decontamination, followed by lime stabilization and land spreading, had less of an environmental impact than any of the other management options examined.

Keywords: Thiobacillus ferrooxidans; agriculture; cost; incineration; management; metal; solubilization; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 1994

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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