Thermal hydrolysis

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Thermal Hydrolysis Plant in Cardiff, Wales, UK

Thermal hydrolysis is a process used for treating industrial waste, municipal solid waste and sewage sludge.


Thermal hydrolysis is a two-stage process combining high-pressure boiling of waste or sludge followed by a rapid decompression. This combined action sterilizes the sludge and makes it more biodegradable, which improves digestion performance. Sterilization destroys pathogens in the sludge resulting in it exceeding the stringent requirements for land application (agriculture).[1]

In addition, the treatment adjusts the rheology to such an extent that loading rates to sludge anaerobic digesters can be doubled, and also dewaterability of the sludge is significantly improved.[2][3] The first full-scale application of this process for sewage sludge was installed in Hamar, Norway in 1996. Since then, there have been over 30 additional installations globally.[1]

Thermal hydrolysis reactors at Blue Plains in 2016.

Commercial application at a sewage treatment plant[edit]

Sewage treatment plants, such as Blue Plains in Washington, D.C., USA, have adopted thermal hydrolysis of sewage sludge in order to produce commercially valuable products (such as electricity and "class A" biosolid fertilizers) out of the wastewater.[4] The full-scale commercial application of thermal hydrolysis enables the plant to utilize the solids portion of the wastewater to make power and fine fertilizer directly from sewage waste.[5]

Municipal waste-to-fuel application[edit]

The city of Oslo, Norway installed a system for converting domestic food waste to fuel in 2012. A thermal hydrolysis system produces biogas from the food waste, which provides fuel for the city bus system and is also used for agricultural fertilizer.[6]

30 largest thermal hydrolysis plants[edit]

Plant Capacity
Thermal Hydrolysis
Blue Plains, Washington DC, USA 135,000 2014 Cambi
Gaoantun, Beijing, China 134,000 2017 Cambi
Gaobeidian, Beijing, China 99,100 2016 Cambi
Davyhulme, Manchester, UK 91,000 2013 Cambi
Huaifang, Beijing, China 89,100 2017 Cambi
Xiaohongmen, Beijing, China 65,700 2016 Cambi
Qinghe II, Beijing, China 59,500 2017 Cambi
Crossness, UK 58,500 2018 Cambi
Ringsend, Dublin, Ireland 56,000 2002 Cambi
Howdon, UK 40,000 2010 Cambi
Riverside, UK 40,000 2009 Cambi
Tees Valley, UK 37,000 2008 Cambi
Beckton, UK 36,500 2013 Cambi
Cardiff, UK 30,000 2009 Cambi
Tilburg, Holland 29,000 2014 Cambi
Esholt, UK 26,400 2013 Veolia
Santiago, Chile 25,000 2010 Cambi
Oxford, UK 24,400 2010 Veolia
Vilnius, Lithuania 23,000 2010 Cambi
Whitlingham, UK 23,000 2008 Cambi
Vigo, Spain 22,000 2014 Cambi
Afan, UK 20,000 2009 Cambi
Bruxelles Nord, Belgium 20,000 2007 Cambi
Cotton Valley, Milton Keynes, UK 20,000 2007 Cambi
NOSES, Aberdeen, UK 16,500 2001 Cambi
Lille, France 16,400 2013 Veolia
EGE Waste Treatment, Oslo, Norway 15,000 2012 Cambi
Turku, Finland 14,000 2009 Cambi
Apeldoorn, Netherlands 13,000 2015 Sustec
Oxley Creek, Brisbane, Australia 12,900 2006 Cambi

* Tons of Dry Solids/Year

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Barber, Bill; Lancaster, Rick; Kleiven, Harald (2012-09-01). "Thermal Hydrolysis: The Missing Ingredient for Better Biosolids?". Water World. 27 (4). Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  2. ^ Neyens, Elisabeth; Baeyens, Jan (2003). "A review of thermal sludge pre-treatment processes to improve dewaterability". Journal of Hazardous Materials. B98 (1–3): 51–57. doi:10.1016/S0304-3894(02)00320-5.
  3. ^ Skinner, Samuel; Studer, Lindsay; Dixon, David; Hillis, Peter; Rees, Catherine; Wall, Rachael; Cavalida, Raul; Usher, Shane; Stickland, Anthony; Scales, Peter (2015). "Quantification of wastewater sludge dewatering". Water Research. 82: 2–13. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2015.04.045. PMID 26003332. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  4. ^ Halsey, Ashley (2014-04-05). "DC Water adopts Norway's Cambi system for making power and fine fertilizer from sewage". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  5. ^ Berkowitz, Bonnie; Lindeman, Todd (2014-04-05). "From Toilet to Turbine". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  6. ^ "Food Waste to Fuel Oslo's City Buses". Environment News Service. Lincoln City, OR. 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2014-05-24.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]