Anaerobic digestion and gasification coupling for wastewater sludge treatment and recovery

Waste Manag Res. 2014 Jul;32(7):608-13. doi: 10.1177/0734242X14538308. Epub 2014 Jun 27.


Sewage sludge management is an energy intensive process. Anaerobic digestion contributes to energy efficiency improvement but is limited by the biological process. A review has been conducted prior to experimentation in order to evaluate the mass and energy balances on anaerobic digestion followed by gasification of digested sludge. The purpose was to improve energy recovery and reuse. Calculations were based on design parameters and tests that are conducted with the anaerobic digester of a local wastewater treatment plant and a small commercial gasification system. Results showed a very significant potential of energy recovery. More than 90% of the energy content from sludge was extracted. Also, approximately the same amount of energy would be transferred in both directions between the digester (biogas) and the gasifier (thermal energy). This extraction resulted in the same use of biogas as the reference scenario but final product was a totally dry biochar, which represented a fraction of the initial mass. Phosphorus was concentrated and significantly preserved. This analysis suggests that anaerobic digestion followed by dehydration, drying and gasification could be a promising and viable option for energy and nutrient recovery from municipal sludge in replacement of conventional paths.

Keywords: Municipal sludge; anaerobic digestion; biosolids; gasification; nutrient recovery.

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Biofuels / analysis*
  • Bioreactors*
  • Sewage / analysis*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*
  • Wastewater / analysis*


  • Biofuels
  • Sewage
  • Waste Water