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Issue 2, 2018
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The feasibility of char and bio-oil production from pyrolysis of pit latrine sludge

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Sustainable methods are required in developing regions to treat and recover value from pit latrine sludge. One strategy is to pyrolyse pit latrine contents and generate char and bio-oil, which can then be used as a soil enhancer and fuel, respectively. Despite the many benefits associated with the process, there is very limited relevant literature available. This study examines its feasibility. Initially, the energy balance for the pyrolysis of sewage sludge was calculated using data from 14 literature studies. The average net energy recovery from pyrolysis of dewatered and dried sewage sludge followed by use of bio-oil as fuel was calculated as 4.95 ± 0.61 MJ kg−1. For dewatered sewage sludge, an average net energy input of 2.23 ± 0.31 MJ kg−1 was required. Parallel calculations were undertaken where pit latrine sludge with 0–100% water content was the hypothetical feedstock. On average, net energy recovery from produced bio-oil was achievable when pit latrine sludge with a water content of ≤∼55% was the feedstock. When both bio-oil and char were utilised, net energy recovery was feasible at a water content value of ≤∼65%. Char production is more favourable from stabilised pit latrine sludge with lower moisture and volatile solids content. Barriers to the pyrolysis of pit latrine sludge include its heterogeneous composition and the difficulty of collecting high-viscosity sludge. Overall, this study demonstrates the potential of pyrolysis as a disposal and value addition method for pit latrine sludge. Innovative methods for sludge drying and pit emptying will expedite the process becoming a reality.

Graphical abstract: The feasibility of char and bio-oil production from pyrolysis of pit latrine sludge

  • This article is part of the themed collection: Sanitation
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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Sep 2017, accepted on 20 Nov 2017 and first published on 29 Nov 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7EW00380C
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., 2018,4, 253-264
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    The feasibility of char and bio-oil production from pyrolysis of pit latrine sludge

    T. Bond, Q. Tse, C. L. Chambon, P. Fennell, G. D. Fowler, B. C. Krueger and M. R. Templeton, Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., 2018, 4, 253
    DOI: 10.1039/C7EW00380C

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