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Determination of the internal chemical energy of wastewater

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elizabeth Heidrich, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Dr Jan DolfingORCiD


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The wastewater industry is facing a paradigm shift, learning to view domestic wastewater not as a waste stream which needs to be disposed of but as a resource from which to generate energy. The extent of that resource is a strategically important question. The only previous published measurement of the internal chemical energy of wastewater measured 6.3 kJ/L It has long been assumed that the energy content in wastewater relates directly to chemical oxygen demand (COD). However there is no standard relationship between COD and energy content In this study a new methodology of preparing samples for measuring the internal chemical energy in wastewater is developed, and an analysis is made between this and the COD measurements taken. The mixed wastewater examined, using freeze-drying of samples to minimize loss of volatiles, had 16.8 kJ/L, while the domestic wastewater tested had 7.6 kJ/L nearly 20% higher than previously estimated. The size of the resource that wastewater presents is clearly both complex and variable but is likely to be significantly greater than previously thought A systematic evaluation of the energy contained in wastewaters is warranted.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heidrich ES, Curtis TP, Dolfing J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Science & Technology

Year: 2011

Volume: 45

Issue: 2

Pages: 827-832

Print publication date: 01/01/2011

ISSN (print): 1382-3124

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1021/es103058w


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