Foundation for New Sewage Sludge Recycling Plant Laid in the Bitterfeld-Wolfen Chemical Park

Along with Klaus Rehda, State Secretary in the Ministry for the Environment, Agriculture and Energy of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Dr Susanna Zapreva, CEO of enercity AG, and Hennig R Deters, CEO of Gelsenwasser AG, laid the foundation for one of the largest sewage sludge recycling plants in the Bitterfeld-Wolfen chemical park today.

Regarding the ground-breaking ceremony, CEO Dr Susanna Zapreva emphasised: “With the new construction of one of the largest sewage sludge recycling plants in Germany, we are sending a clear signal for an increased conservation of resources and sustainability. The thermal recycling of the sewage sludge enables us to eliminate pollutants to ensure that these cannot find their way into the ecosystem.”

The investment costs for this plant amount to approx. EUR 80 million. 15 new jobs are created. The start of commissioning has been scheduled for summer 2021, and regular production is intended to commence at the end of 2021. Approx. 260,000 tons of de-watered sewage sludge from municipal sewage treatment plants will then be recycled each year. Hennig R Deters, CEO of Gelsenwasser AG, stresses: “This project helps us to contribute to soil and groundwater protection as well as to resource-conserving phosphorus recovery.”

The delivered sewage sludges are put into a mixing bunker for interim storage and fed into two large disc dryers via different conveyor systems. The self-generated vapour is used to dry the sewage sludge to approx. 40% of water content and fed into the fluidised bed furnace for incineration. The generated steam from the boiler is transported to a steam turbine. Less the system's own requirements, the power generated in this way is fed into the public grid. Besides the road, a rail connection for delivering the sewage sludges will be established as well.

The new plant is located directly next to the thermal residual waste treatment plant, which has been operating for more than ten years. As a 100% subsidiary of PD energy GmbH, KSR Klärschlammrecycling GmbH (KSR) is constructing one of the currently largest sewage sludge mono-incineration plant in Germany in the Bitterfeld-Wolfen chemical park. Danpower GmbH, a company of enercity AG in Hanover, and Chemiepark Bitterfeld-Wolfen GmbH, a company of the Gelsenwasser Group, each hold 50% of the shares in PD energy GmbH.

The general planning of the project is incumbent upon PME Projektmanagement & Engineering GmbH, a subsidiary of Danpower GmbH. The construction lot is realised by STRABAG AG. The technical responsibility for the project lies with Küttner Martin Technology GmbH.

What is Sewage Sludge?

Sewage sludge is an end product from the treatment of waste water in sewage treatment plants and comprised of both organic and mineral substances which, in turn, exist in dissolved and solid form. The sewage sludge is rich in nutrients, since the bacteria use the waste water constituents at the biological stage to create biomass.

Due to different laws, ordinances and directives, e.g. the amendment to the Sewage Sludge Ordinance of 2017, the material recycling of sewage sludge in agriculture will significantly decrease. Sewage sludge contains the important raw material phosphorus. Due to its finiteness as a natural resource, it should be recovered and be reintroduced into the materials cycle. This can be done, for example, from ashes from sewage sludge mono-incineration plants. In the future, approx. 1.7 million tons of sewage sludge from municipal waste water plants will be generated for recycling in Germany each year.

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