Valorization of Sewage Sludge by Hydrothermal Carbonization

Last November a new research project was signed between MIT and FERROVIAL S.A. The title being “Utilization of sewage sludge to design, produce and characterize carbon-based materials through hydrothermal processing and computational modeling”

During the next 18 months they will jointly study the potential of applying the process of Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC) of sewage sludge to valorize it and extract from it precious by-products such as Asphalt or Bitumen, Active Carbon or Bio-Crude. Is therefore framed under the Circular Economy strategy in which they are immersed.

The HTC process aims to simulate in a matter of minutes, by applying high temperatures and pressures, a process that in nature takes thousands of years to take place.

Among the most important milestones of this study we can highlight the development and validation of a Molecular Model that will allow us to know the optimal operational conditions to maximize the transformation of the sludge into the byproduct that presents the greatest added value and potential market. The generation, for example, of bituminous products similar to the asphalt used in road construction could generate significant synergies in the Ferrovial group.

Javier Arrieta, head of the R + D + i Department of Cadagua, visited the team of researchers of Professor Markus Buehler at MIT to track the first trials and advances of the project.