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Phosphorus and Heavy Metal Extraction from Wastewater Treatment Plant Sludges Using Microwaves for Generation of Exceptional Quality Biosolids

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The objectives of this study were to evaluate the amount of phosphorus and metals in sludge that can be released into solution by microwave irradiation when applied to sludge before anaerobic digestion and determine the effectiveness of subsequent lime precipitation. The fraction of phosphorus in the soluble form increased to 23 to 28% for thickened sludge and to 31 to 38% for unthickened sludge, after raising temperatures by microwave heating to 50 to 70°C. Microwave irradiation also caused the release of arsenic, molybdenum, nickel, and selenium into solution to 33, 15, 13, and 28% for thickened sludge and 63, 61, 37, and 27% for unthickened sludge, respectively. Microwave irradiation has been found to destruct pathogens in sludge to meet Class A biosolids requirements. Therefore, the reduction of phosphorus and metals in biosolids using microwave heating is economically attractive when considered as a secondary benefit to the use of microwave heating to generate Class A biosolids.

Keywords: biosolids; enhanced biological phosphorus removal; heavy metals; microwave irradiation/heating; primary sludge; waste activated sludge

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2008

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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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