Share

South East Water is involved in a new wastewater management project to transform leftover biosolids headed for landfill into reusable products for farmers.

Developed by RMIT University and the first of its kind in Australia, the innovative technology uses a process called pyrolysis, whereby high temperatures destroy pathogens and microplastics in biosolids to create biochar – a carbon-rich form of charcoal for use by farmers and the wider agriculture industry to improve soil health.

Currently around 30 per cent of the world’s biosolids resource is stockpiled or sent to landfill, creating an environmental challenge.

The Biosolids to Biochar project is a circular approach to wastewater management, with the new technology having the potential to eliminate landfill waste across the water industry.

South East Water is helping to deliver the Biosolids to Biochar project in partnership with RMIT University, Intelligent Water Networks and Greater Western Water, with the technology currently in trial at the Melton Recycled Water Plant in Melbourne.

Working with other industries

Steve McGhie MP, Member for Melton representing Acting Minister for Water Richard Wynne, recently toured Greater Western Water’s Melton Recycled Water Plant for a first-hand demonstration of the new technology.

“This collaboration will enable the water industry to find alternative markets for biosolids, reducing waste going to landfill and allowing 100 per cent of products to be reused or recycled,” Mr McGhie said.

“By creating a safe product with a steady supply stream, we’re also providing our farmers and the wider agriculture industry a product which is completely natural and can improve soil health and fertility.

“This project is incredibly exciting for both industries and I can’t wait to see the outcome of the trial.”

Mr McGhie said this project is an excellent example of like-minded organisations working together with a shared commitment to sustainable solutions.

“By reusing and adding value to biosolids, we recover local resources, reduce landfill and create renewable energy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

South East Water’s Managing Director, Lara Olsen, said that supporting these kinds of innovative emerging technologies is an important part of South East Water’s commitment towards reduced emissions and a circular economy approach towards wastewater.

“The disposal of biosolids is a challenge across the water industry. South East Water is continually looking for ways we can work with others to create innovative solutions to protect our environment and to help our customers and community,” Ms Olsen said.

“This technology is important as it can be scaled to any size, making it a possible  solution for both urban and regional water utilities.”

Transitioning to a circular economy

Associate Professor, Kalpit Shah, Deputy Director (Academic) of the ARC Training Centre for Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource, RMIT University, said that developing new ways to squeeze the full value from waste resources is critical in our transition to a circular economy. He said the Training Centre is thrilled this Australian-first technology has reached full trial stage.

“At the heart of RMIT research are our strong partnerships with industry, and we hope this collaborative trial will enable us to accelerate the translation of our innovation into new homegrown technologies that advance sustainability and make a real impact in water and agriculture,” Professor Shah said.

Maree Lang, Managing Director Greater Western Water said that she is delighted that Greater Western Water is also a part of this project.

“With a growing customer base and one of the largest service regions in Victoria, it’s so important that we find ways to add even more value to the work that we do. This project is an excellent example of like-minded organisations working together with a shared commitment to sustainable solutions,” Ms Lang said.

“By reusing and adding value to biosolids, we recover local resources, reduce landfill and create renewable energy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dean Barnett, Program Director, Intelligent Water Networks (IWN), said IWN is also excited to be part of this innovative technology trial – turning a waste product into a usable resource, which meets its objective of a circular economy for its members and the broader water industry.

The next stage of the trial will involve scaling up the technology, with a dedicated unit in place at a Water Recycling Plant (WRP) over a longer period of time.

©2021 Utility Magazine. All rights reserved

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?