Modelling the bioenergy potential of municipal wastewater treatment plants

Water Sci Technol. 2018 Jun;77(11-12):2613-2623. doi: 10.2166/wst.2018.222.


A municipal wastewater treatment plant accounts for a large portion of the total energy consumption of a municipality. Besides their high energy demand, the plants also display a significant bioenergy potential. This is due to the utilisation of the energy content of digester gas and sewage sludge if there exist suitable units. To maximise the energy recovery efficiency of wastewater treatment systems (WWTS), it is important to analyse the amount of digester gas and sludge produced in different types of plants. Therefore, the present paper deals with designing a tool to answer the following research questions: Which bioenergy potentials occur in different plant types? Which mass and energy flows are related to the specific potentials? Which utilisation processes for the potentials can lead to a high energy recovery efficiency of WWTS? Preliminary analyses with the designed tool were focused on estimating the level of electric and thermal energy self-sufficiency of different plant configuration scenarios including or excluding digester gas and/or sludge utilisation units. First results based on the level of self-sufficiency and associated energy and disposal costs show that a digester gas and sewage sludge utilisation should be considered when designing future WWTS.

MeSH terms

  • Biofuels*
  • Cities
  • Electricity
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Sewage
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*
  • Waste Water


  • Biofuels
  • Sewage
  • Waste Water