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Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of HTC Concepts Valorizing Sewage Sludge for Energetic and Agricultural Use

1
Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum Gemeinnützige GmbH (DBFZ), Bioenergy Systems Department, Torgauer Straße 116, 04347 Leipzig, Germany
2
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Environmental and Biotechnology Centre, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
3
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Bioenergy, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2019, 12(5), 786; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12050786
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 26 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrothermal Technology in Biomass Utilization & Conversion)
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Abstract

In many countries, sewage sludge is directly used for energy and agricultural purposes after dewatering or digestion and dewatering. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in additional upstream hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), which could lead to higher yields in the energetic and agricultural use. Twelve energetic and agricultural valorization concepts of sewage sludge are defined and assessed for Germany to investigate whether the integration of HTC will have a positive effect on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The study shows that the higher expenses within the HTC process cannot be compensated by additional energy production and agricultural yields. However, the optimization of the HTC process chain through integrated sewage sludge digestion and process water recirculation leads to significant reductions in GHG emissions of the HTC concepts. Subsequently, nearly the same results can be achieved when compared to the direct energetic use of sewage sludge; in the agricultural valorization, the optimized HTC concept would be even the best concept if the direct use of sewage sludge will no longer be permitted in Germany from 2029/2032. Nevertheless, the agricultural valorization concepts are not generally advantageous when compared to the energetic valorization concepts, as it is shown for two concepts. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrothermal carbonization (HTC); life cycle assessment (LCA); sewage sludge; electricity and heat production; agricultural yield hydrothermal carbonization (HTC); life cycle assessment (LCA); sewage sludge; electricity and heat production; agricultural yield
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Meisel, K.; Clemens, A.; Fühner, C.; Breulmann, M.; Majer, S.; Thrän, D. Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of HTC Concepts Valorizing Sewage Sludge for Energetic and Agricultural Use. Energies 2019, 12, 786.

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