Sewage sludge from 50,000 citizens in Odsherred has gone from being an annual expense for the local supply to being a product that can be sold and demanded.
This is the result of the world’s first integrated steam drying and pyrolysis plant being able to convert the sludge into bio-coal and district heating. The energy from the sludge drives both steam drying and a pyrolysis process of 650 degrees and delivers such a clean and fine combustion that CO2 emissions are reduced and the end product in the form of phosphorus-containing biochar can be sold as fertilizer. In addition, the surplus heat from the plant can be used as district heating.
“In the past, we paid between one and a half and two million DKK annually to get rid of our sewage sludge; now we can sell it instead,” says Fanny Villadsen, CEO of Odsherred Forsyning.
This is good news in an increasingly climate-conscious world, and for AquaGreen – the company behind the innovative solution – it has attracted a lot of attention. AquaGreen developed the new combustion chamber together with Odsherred Forsyning and DTU through a 3-year programme supported by the Regional Fund and facilitated through Energy Cluster Denmark; a programme that has aimed to encourage more small and medium-sized enterprises to develop innovative products for energy optimisation.
It has certainly hit the spot for AquaGreen:
“We are receiving inquiries from all over the world at the moment,” says Henning Schmidt-Petersen, CEO of AquaGreen:
“We have already installed the new burners in Denmark and South Africa and are up and running in Sweden; has just won a tender to supply installations in Malaysia and Borneo; we are working on an offer for 11 plants for Saudi Arabia; is on the way with licensed production in China and is working on contract proposals from a customer in Australia,” he says.
The interest has resulted in a significant growth of the company.
“We were 5 employees when the project started. Now we are 31 employees and have a product that is in demand from all sides,” says Henning Schmidt-Petersen.
He calls the innovation project ‘absolutely crucial’ for AquaGreen:
“Through the project, we got funding and access to research that we otherwise could not get. It has been alpha and omega for us,” he says:
“We are a completely different company today; Far more interesting as a sparring partner and workplace. We have received a significant increase in competence, and we are an actor you look for advice,” says Henning Schmidt-Petersen.