Proceedings

IS THE COMMERCIAL SUCCESS OF SLUDGE TREATMENT PROCESSES A QUESTION OF TIMING?

*Hudson J A and ** Lowe P

*Independent Consultant. ** Senior Partner Aqua Enviro Consultancy Services

(free)

Over the last ten years a number of new processes and improved versions of older processes have appeared in the papers presented to the European Biosolids and Organic Residuals conference. Some of these innovations have progressed from research to development to the commercially available technologies; others have not. Some of the processes discussed failed to make a commercial impact because the anticipated changes in the regulations governing the disposal of sludge to land did not come into effect. Some technologies progressed because they offered strategic alternatives to the important sludge to land disposal route. Others were opportune because the offered to a concerned public an apparent “green” solution.

Without investing in research and development, followed by commercial risk taking, a technology company and indeed the industrial sector in which they operate would stagnate. However, the need for investment in R&D into new or improved technologies is a matter of judgement. Trends and fashions have to be considered and the time scale by which a commercial return can be made carefully assessed.

In an industry driven by regulation the timing of the launch of a new or improved technology can be critical to its commercial success. One of the difficulties the industry faces is the long and protracted process of bringing new legislation to birth. Proposals can be trailed for years only to be dropped at the last hurdle leaving those who have made a commercial judgement based on likely future regulations high and dry.

This paper reviews some of the technologies for the processing of sewage sludge and discusses the related to success and failure. Comments are made on the likelihood of their commercial success in the next decade.

KEY WORDS Biosolids, Destructive Technologies, Commercial Success, Dewatering, Digestion, Drying, Incineration, Lime treatment, Market, Regulations, Sewage Sludge,

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