Increase of energy recovery from sewage sludge

  • Janat Samanya

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The use of the pyrolysis process to obtain valuable products from biomass is amongst the technologies being investigated as a source for renewable energy. The pyrolysis process yields products such as biochar, bio-oil and non condensable gases. The main objective of this project is to
increase energy recovery from sewage sludge by utilising the intermediate pyrolysis process. The intermediate pyrolysis has a residence time ranging from 5 to 10 minutes. The main product yields from sewage sludge pyrolysis are 50 wt% biochar, 40 wt% bio-oil and 10 wt% non condensable gases. The project was carried out on a pilot plant scale reactor with a load capacity of 20 kg/h. This enabled a high yield of biochar and bio-oil. The characterisation of the products indicated that the organic phase of the bio-oil had good fuel properties such as having high energy content of 39 MJ/kg, low acid number of 21.5, high flash point of 150 and viscosity of 35 cSt. An increase in pyrolysis experiments enabled large quantities of pyrolysis oil production. Co-pyrolysis of sewage sludge was carried out on laboratory scale with mixed wood, rapeseed and straw. It found that there was an increase in bio-oil quantity with rapeseed while co-pyrolysis with wood helped to mask the smell of the sludge pyrolysis oil. Engine test were successfully carried out in an old Lister engine with pyrolysis oil fractions of 30% and 50% blended with biodiesel. This indicates that these pyrolysis oil fractions can be used in similar engine types without any problems however long term effects in ordinary engines are unknown. An economic evaluation was carried out about the implementation of the intermediate pyrolysis process for electricity production in a CHP using the pyrolysis oil. The prices of electricity per kWh were found to be very high.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
SupervisorAndreas Hornung (Supervisor) & John G Brammer (Supervisor)


  • sewage sludge
  • pyrolysis
  • intermediate pyrolysis
  • co-pyrolysis
  • stability
  • engine tests
  • economic evaluation

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