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The potential for thermal energy recovery from wastewater treatment works in Southern England

Fenner, RA and Hawley, C (2012) The potential for thermal energy recovery from wastewater treatment works in Southern England. Journal of Water and Climate Change, 3. pp. 287-299. ISSN 2040-2244

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Abstract

There is potential to extract energy from wastewater in a number of ways, including: kinetic energy using micro-hydro systems, chemical energy through the incineration of sludge, biomass energy from the biogas produced after anaerobic sludge digestion, and thermal energy as heat. This paper considers the last option and asks how much heat could be recovered under UK climatic conditions and can this heat be used effectively by wastewater treatment plants to reduce their carbon footprint? Four wastewater treatment sites in southern England are investigated and the available heat that can be recovered at those sites is quantified. Issues relating to the environmental, economic and practical constraints on how energy can be realistically recovered and utilised are discussed .The results show there is a definite possibility for thermal energy recovery with potential savings at some sites of up to 35,000 tonnes of total long-cycle carbon equivalent (fossil fuel) emissions per year being achievable. The paper also shows that the financial feasibility of three options for using the heat (either for district heating, sludge drying or thermophilic heating in sludge digestion processes) is highly dependant upon the current shadow price of carbon. Without the inclusion of the cost of carbon, the financial feasibility is significantly limited. An environmental constraint for the allowable discharge temperature of effluent after heat-extraction was found to be the major limitation to the amount of energy available for recovery. The paper establishes the true potential of thermal energy recovery from wastewater in English conditions and the economic feasibility of reducing the carbon footprint of wastewater treatment operations using this approach.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: Div D > Sustainable Development
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 11:29
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2014 01:14
DOI: 10.2166/wcc.2012.013

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