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Processes for Beneficial Use

edited by

Mark J. Girovich
Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems lnc.
Annapolis, Maryland

Marcel Dekker, Inc. New York. Basel Hong Kong

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Biosolids treatment and management : processes for beneficial use /

edited by Mark J. Girovich.
p. cm. - (Environmental science and pollution control series
; 18)
Includes bibliographical references and index (p. ).
ISBN 0-8247-9706-X (alk. paper)
1. Sewage sludge-Management. I. Girovich, Mark J.
11. Series: Environmental science and pollution control ; 18.
TD767.B55 1996
628.3'644~20 95-5 1804

The publisher offers discounts on this book when ordered in bulk quantities.
For more information, write to Special Sales/Professional Marketing at the
address below.

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Copyright 0 1996 by MARCEL DEKKER, INC. All Rights Reserved.

Neither this book nor any part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, micro-
filming, and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Current printing (last digit):

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Treated municipal wastewater solids (biosolids) represent a sipficant and valuable
resource which can be recycled for various beneficial uses. The United States
Environmental Protection Agency regulations (40 CFR Part 503 "Standardsfor the
Use of Disposal of Sewage Sludge") promulgated on February 19, 1993, have
provided new momentum and defined regulatory conditions for implementing
beneficial uses of biosolids.
Treatment and management of biosolids is one of the most challenging
problems in the wastewater treatment industry. It is complicated by a variety of
treatment and end-use options. New federal and state regulations conerning
environmental safety and public health have imposed sigdcantly more complex
requirementsfor bimlids treatment,use and disposal. Selectingfeasible options that
conform to regulations, while minimizing cost, has become very challenging. With
Ocean disposal no longer allowed, landfills filling up and incineration already
e-ve and often socially unacceptable,biosolids recycling through beneficial use
is gaining in popularity. Such recycling has been practiced by many communitiesfor
years in the form of land application of stabilized biosolids. The more advanced
treatment options of digestion, composting,heat drymg and alkaline stabilization have
been developed in recent years to provide marketable products which, because of the
additional treatment, are usually subject to fewer regulatory controls.
This book was conceived late in 1993 after the new environmental, safety
and public health regulations concerning municipal sludge (biosolids) treatment,
management and disposal were introduced. It is written by a group of authors with
many years of practice in the field and reflects their unique experience.
The text emphasizestheuse of biosolids, reflecting the authors' strong belief
that biosolids are a valuable resource and should be beneficially employed in the
amtext of envinmnental, safety and public health regulations. By providing valuable
technical and economic
. . tors,data, this book should prove to be an invaluable resource for
municipal engineers, consllltants,students and practitioners in the field
who must know how to evaluate and select the best municipal and industrial
wastewater solids (bimlids) treatment, management and disposal options. This book
contains descriptions of the processing equipment, economics and regulatory and
environmentalprotection issues related to biosolids management and use.
I would like to expms my gratitude to all the people who have been helpful
in the creation of this book. Special thanks are extended to Sue Gregory, Jamie
Kaiser, andKathleen Wooldridge (Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems Inc., Bio Gro
Division) for their assistance in preparing the manuscript.

Mark J. Girovich

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Preface iii
About the Contributors xi

Chapter 1 Biosolidr Characterization,Treatment and Use: An

Overview 1
Mark J. Girovich

I. Biosolids Generation and Beneficial Use

II. Biosolids Characterization

A. Composition and Beneficial Properties
B. Microbiology of Biosolids
C. Odors and Other Nuisances
D. Other Characteristics
III. Biosolids Treatment for Beneficial Use: An
A. Beneficial Uses
B. Requirementsfor Beneficial Use
C. Treatment Processes: An Overview

Chapter 2 Federal Regulatory Requirements 47

Jane B. Forste

I. Historical Backpound and Risk Assessment

A. Inimxluction
B. Basis for the 503 Regulations
C. DataGathering
D. Risk Assessment Methodology

II. Final Part 503 Regulations

A. Introduction
B. Exposure Assessment Pathways
C. Final Part 503 Standards

III. Pathogen and Vector Attraction Reduction


vi Contents

Chapter 3 Conditioning and Dewatering 131

Robert J. Kukenberger

I. Sntroduction

II. Conditioning
A. Organic Polyelectrolytes
B. Polymer Feed and Control Systems
C. Inorganic Chemical Conditioning
D. Thermal Conditioning

III. Dewatering
A. Process Description
B. Thickening
C. Mechanical Dewatering
D. Passive Dewatering

IV. Odor Control

V. Casestudies

Chapter 4 Digestion 165

Kenneth J. Snow

I. Biosolicls Digestion
A. Introduction
B. Process Fundamentals
C. Equipment Review
D. Economics of Digestion

n. casestudies

Chapter 5 Cornposting 193

Lewis M.Naylor

I. Introduction
A. Growth ofCornposting in the United States

II. Goals of cornposting

A. ChemicalQuality
B. Biological Quality
C. Customer Requirements
Contents vii

HI. Process Fundamentals

A. Microbial Community
B. Environmental Conditions
C. Nutritional Considerations

IV. Solids and the Cornposting Process

A. Types of Solids
B. Particlesize

V. Process Energetics
A. The Biological Fire
B. Heat and Temperature
C. Temperature Control
D. Aeration

VI. Preparing a Blended Feedstock

A. Dry Solids and Porosity
B. Chemical Composition
C. Ingredient Selection
D. Developing a Blended Feedstock Recipe

W. OdorRemoval
A. OriginsofOdors
B. Odor Control Technologies
C. Biofilter Fundamentals and Operations
D. Biofilter Challenges

WI. Pre- and Post-Processing

IX. Marketing
A. Marketing Issues

X. OutlookandSUmmq

Chapter 6 Heat Drying and Other Thermal Processes 271

Mark J. Girovich

I. BiosolidsDqmg
A. Heat Drying and Production of Fertilizer
B. Partially Dried Biosolids

II. Heat Drymg Processes

viii Contents

III. DryerDesigos
A. DirectDryers
B. IndirectDryers

IV. Major Dryer Parametem

A. Evaporation Capacity
B. Energy and Dqmg Air Requirements

V. HeatDrylngSystems
A. System Components
B. Handling and Treatment of Drying and Heating
C. EnvLonmental Control and Regulatory Issues
D. Ekonomics of Heat Drying
VI. Production of Fertilizer: Case Studies
A. Milwaukee Biosolids Dqmg and Pelletizing Plant
B. New York City Biosolids FertilizerFacility
C. Baltimore City Fertilizer Facility

W. Other Thermal Processes

A. C a r v e r - M e l d (C-G) Process
B. Wet Oxidation (Zimpro Process)

Chapter 7 Alkaline Stabilization 343

Mark J. Girovich

I. Introduction

II. Alkaline Stabilization

A. Pre-Lime and Post-Lime Stabilization
B. Process Fundamentals
C. Alkaline Materials

III. Proprietary Alkaline StabilizationProcesses

A. BIO*FIX Process
B. N-ViroSoil Process
C. RDP En-Vessel Pasteurization
D. ChemfixProcess
E. Other Alkaline StabilizationProcesses

IV. Economics of Alkaline Stabilization

contents ix

Chapter 8 Land Application 389

Jane B. Forste

I. Introduction
A. Historical Background

II. Beneficial Properhes of Biosolids

A. Nitrogen Considerations
€3. Effects of Organic Matter from Biosolids on Soil
C. Effects of Other Biosolids Constituents

III. Site Selection, Design and Management

A. Site Selection
B. Nitrogen-Based Agronomic Rates
C. Design for Non-Agricultural Sites
D. Pathogen Considerations in Land Application
E. Agronomic Considerations

IV. Methods and Equipment

A. Transportation

V. Economics of Land Application

VI. Monitoring and Recordkeeping

A. GeneralRequirements of 40 CFR 503.12
B. Pathogen Reduction
C. Vector Attraction Reduction
D. Management Practices
E. Monitoring

W. Public Outreach
A. Communication Channels

Index 449
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About the Contributors

Mark J. Girovieh, Ph.D., book editor and author of

Chapters 1, 6, and 7 has years of experience in
mechanical and environmentalengineering and project
j management and is currently Director of Engineering
j for the Bio Gro Division of Wheelabrator Clean Water
' Systems Inc.Dr.
a Ph.D. in
mechanical engineering from Moscow Polytechnic
Institute (Russia), an M.S. in mechanical engineering
Polytechnic Institute (Ukraine) and a

B.S. in appliedphysics fromKharkov State University.
, .
' '..,
"" 1 He is amemberof the AmericanSocietyofMechanical
j Engineers (ASME). The author numerous
of papers
and several patents, he has specialized in biosolids heat drying and alkaline
stabilization over the past 10 years.

Jane B. Forste, author of Chapters 2 and 8, is currently Vice President of

Technical Servicesfor the Bio Gro Division of Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems
Inc. Ms. Forste holds B.S. and MS. degrees in agronomy from the University of
Vermont. She has over 20 years of experience in the field and has frequently
published and presented papers at professional conferences. She is a Certified
Professional Agronomistand Registered Environmental Professional. Ms.Forste
serves on committees for the Water Environment Federation (WEF), American
Society for Testing and Materials
(AS"), Association of MetropolitanSewerage
Agencies (AMSA) and the National Association of ProfessionalEnvironmental
Communicators(NAPEC). Ms. Forste develops technical input to federal and state
regulatory agencies and has workedextensivelywith civic and political

Robert J. Kukenberger, P.E., author of Chapter 3, is currently Executive Vice

President of Blasland, Bouck & Lee, Inc. and is responsiblefor the firm's water and
wastewater engineering programs nationwide. Mr. Kukenberger received aB.S.
in Civil Engineering from Tri State Universityanand M.S. from the University of
Rhode Island. The author of numerous technical publications,Mr. Kukenberger
has over 8 years of experience in the field biosolids treatment and management.
xii About the Contributors

Lewis M. Naylor, Ph.D., author of Chapter 5, is Environmental Scientist for Black

and Veatch. Dr. Naylor received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Iowa State
University, M.S. degrees in Chemistry from the University of Northern Iowa and
Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa, and B.S. degree in
Chemistry from Bluffon College (Ohio). He has published numerous papers on
composting, recycling and beneficial use of biosolids. Dr. Naylor is a member of
the American Chemical Society (ACS), American Water Works Association
(AWWA), and Water Environment Federation (WEF). For more than two decades,
he has assisted industries and communities in developing beneficial use and
recycling projects. Dr. Naylor has been associated with Cornell University’s
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Wheelabrator Clean
Water Systems Inc., IPS Division.

Kenneth J. Snow, P.E., D.E.E., author of Chapter 4, is a professional engineer

with over 20 years of experience with industrial and municipal wastewater
treatment design, construction and operation. He is currently President of
Corporate EnvironmentalEngineeringLnc. in Worcester,Massachusetts. Mr. Snow
holds a B.S. degree from Lowell Technological Institute and an M.S. degree fiom
Northeastern University.
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and
Use: An Overview
Mark J. Girovich

Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems Inc.

Annapolis, Maryland


Municipal wastewater treatment produces two products: clean water and water
slurries which are usually referred to as sludges.
While clean water is dlsposed of directly into the environment, it is not feasible,
environmentallyor economically, to do so with the solids generated by wastewater
treatment processes. They must be treated prior to disposal or beneficial use to
comply with public health, safety, environmental and economic considerations.
Municipal wastewater treatment solids contain si@cant amounts of organic
matter as well as inorganic elements which represent a valuable resource. These
components of the solids, &er appropriate treatment, can be beneficially used
(recycled) as a fertilizer, soil amendment or other beneficial use products. Energy
contained in the solids can be recovered. Ash resulting fiom the solids incineration
can also be used beneficially.
Recognizing potential value of wastewater solids,the term biosolids is used in
thisbook to mean a product of the wastewater solids treatment that can be beneficially
In 1989,5.4milliondry metric tons of municipal solids were produced per year
by approximately 12,750 publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) [l]. Current
(1995) municipal solids production is approximately 8.0 million dry metric tons per
year and is expected to increase substantially by the year 2000 due to population
growth, improvements in POTW operation and stricter treatment standards.

2 Girovich

Treatment and disposal of municipal solids in the USA is a growing business

estimated at several billion dollars mually. This business, similar to the municipal
wastewater treatment industry, is financed by taxation (federal grants, state taxes,
sewer fees, etc.)
Quantities and quality of biosolids produced by the POTWs vary widely and
depend upon the origin of wastewater, type of treatment and plant operational
Biosolids in the U.S. have beenmanaged as follows (1992, dry metric tons):


Co-dispo~alin MSW landfills I 1,818,700 34.0%
Land application 1,785,300 33.3%
Incineration 864,700 16.1%
Surface dimsal 553,700 10.3%

ocean disposal* 335,500 6.3%

TOTAL 5,357,900 100%

* Ended in June 1992

In the land applicaiim category, the following beneficial use options are growing
in popularity (design capacity, dry metric tons per year, 1995 estimates):

* Heat Drylng and Pelletizing 375,000

- Composting 550,Ooo
* Alkaline Stabilization 650,000

The European Union (Ev> (12 countries) generated over 6.5 million dry metric
tonsof municipal solids in 1992. By theyear 2000, the amount will increase up to 9.0
million dm@ear. The EU directives of 1986 and 1991 generally promote beneficial
use of sewage sludge solids [2]. The future of beneficial use in the EU will depend on
the legislation regarding standards for beneficial use and incineration as well as the
acceptance of beneficial use versus incineration by the population. At present, the
beneficial use in the EU varies from 10 to 60 percent (Table 1-2).
Japan generates over 1.4 million dm@ear with approximately60% incinerated.
Accurate data on solids disposal in developing countries of Eastern Europe, Asia,
Biosolids Characterization,Treatment and Use 3

Latin America and Africa are not available at present. Detailed discussion on
biosolids disposal worldwide is provided in References [2] and [111.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actively promotes beneficial

use of municipal solids because it decreases dependence on chemical fertilizers and
provides signtficant economic advantages. Over 20 years of research have been
devoted to the use of biosolids on agriculture and similar beneficial applications.
Beneficial use includes:
* application to agricultural and nonagricultural lands alone or as a supplement to
chemical fertilizers
* application in silviculture to increase forest productivity
4 Girovich

* use in home lawns and gardens

* application to reclaim and revegetate disturbed sites such as surface-mined areas
* use as a daily, maintenance and final cover for municipal solid waste (MSW)

Land application is essentially the placement of appropriatelytreated biosolids

in or on the soil in a manner that utilizes their fertilizing and soil conditioning
properties. It includes agricultural, forest and site reclamation applications, and a
number of biosolids-derived products, such as dlgested, dried, chemically or heat
hreated biosolids, and compost. Biosolids-derived products are distributed in various
forms, such as in bulk, packaged, further processed, enriched, sold to public, etc.
They are applied to agricultural and nonagricultural lands, soil reclamation and
revegetation sites, forests, lawns, gardens, golfcourses, parks, and so forth.
Surface disposal includes disposal in monofills and dedicated sites. @Iisposal
on dedicated sites is a beneficial use method of applying biosolids at greater than
agnmomic rates at sites speczdy set aside for this purpose to restore disturbed soils
(e.g., strip mines).]
Incineration is generally regarded as a nonbeneficial disposal method of solids
management unless heat recovery for steam and electricity generation is included in
the process.
One or more levels of treatment (i.e., primary, s e c o n w and tertiary) are used
to clean wastewater. Each level of treatment provides both greater wastewater clean-
up and greater amounts of municipal solids.

primar?r solids are removed by gravity settling at the beginning of the wastewater
treatment process. They usually contain 3.0 to 7.0 percent total solids (%TS),
60 to 80 percent of which is organic matter (dry basis). The primary solids are
generated at the rate of approximately 2,500 to 3,500 liters (660to 925 gallons)
per each million liters of wastewater treated.
Secondarv solids are generated by biological treatment processes called
secondary treatment (e.g., activated sludge systems, trickling filters and other
attached growth systems which utilize microbes to remove organic substances
from wastewater). They usually contain fiom 0.5 to 2.O%TS. The organic
content of the secondary solids ranges from 50 to 60%. About 15,000 to 20,000
liters (3,965 to 5,285 gallons) of these solids are generated per each million
liters of wastewater treated.
- Advanced (tertiary) solids are generated by processes such as chemical
precipitation and filtration. The solids content varies fi-om 0.2 to 1.5%TSwith
the organic content of the solids in the 35% to 50% range. About 10,000 liters
of solids (2,642 gallons) are generated additionalIy per each million liters of
wastewater treated.
Biosoiids Characterization, Treatment and Use 5


Item Unit Primary

Amount liters 2,500- 15,000- 10,000

generated 3,500
Percenttotal % 3.0-7.0 0.5-2.0 0.2-1.5

Dry biosolids metric tons per 0.1-0.15 0.02-0.15

tons per million

0.42-0.55 0.8-1.2
~ 1 0.08-0.6 I
Table 1-3 provides for quick, approximate estimates of the total biosolids
generated as a function of a POTW wastewater influent flow. For example, a 30
milliongallon per day P O W (30 mgd) with primary and secondary treatment (typical
for a large number of the POTWs in the USA) will generate 30 mgd x (.485+ 1.O)
= 44.5 dry tuns of biosolids per day (dtd) approximately. (0.485and 1.O are average
biosolids generation for primary and secondary treatment, tons per million gallons

Characterization of biosolids by their source (primary, secondary, etc.) provides only
limited information about their properhes. There are numerous other physical,
chernical and microbiological parameters which are important for biosolids' treatment
and management.

k Composition and Beneficial Properties

1. Solids Concentration

Solids concentrations are measuredand expresseL either as mg (milligrams per liter)

or as percent (%) of solids. In all cases in this book it is assumed that: 10,000mgA
= 1% total solids (TS).
Note that percentage of total solids is weighdweight ratio while solids
concentration(mgA) is weightholumeratio. The equation above is valid only with the
assumptionthat specific gavity of biosolids is equal to that of water (1 .O) which, in
6 Girovich

many wastewater solids,especially thoseof industrial origin, is not true. The standard
procedurefor determhhg solids concentration employs drying a measured volume of
biosolids to a cunstant weight at 103 - 105 C. The solids concentration is the weight

of dry solids divided by the volume of the sample expressed in mgA. In order to
determine percent of total solids (%TS) as a weightlweight ratio, the identical
procedure is applied with a measured weight of the biosolids sample.
Total volatile solids f%TVS) are determined by igniting the dry solids at 550"
+ 50°C in a furnace with excess of oxygen. The residue is referred to as non-volatile
or as fixed solids (ash) and the loss of weight on ignition determines total volatile
solids, Both %TS and %TVS are widely used in the biosolids treatment and
management practices as measures of dry matter (or moisture) and organic
(combustible) matter in the biosolids.
Total sumended solids (TSS) refers to the nonfilterable residue retained after
fdtration of a sample of the liquid biosolids and then dried at 103 105O C to remove

water. The concentration of TSS is the weight of dry solids divided by the volume of
the sample usually expressed in mgA.
Determination of volatile suspended solids is identical to that of total volatile
solids using loss on ignition methods. Total solids are the sum of the dissolved and
suspended solids. [3]
Water in biosolids is usually categorized as follows:
Free water is not attached to the biosolids particles and it can be separated by
gravitational settling.
- Floc water is trapped within the flock and can be removed only by mechanical
forces, which are usually much greater than gravitational force.
.. Carillarv water adheres to individual particles and can be also separated by
mechanical forces.
- Intracellular and chemicallv bound water is part of cell material and is
biologically and chemically bound to the biosolids' organic and inorganic matter.

Approximate amounts of energy required to remove water h m biosolids by

various methods are as follows (per cubic meter of water) [4]:
- Gravity (thickening): 10' KW to achieve 2-6%TS
Mechanical dewatering: 1-10 KW to achieve 1530% TS
* Thermal drying: lo3KW to achieve 85-95% TS

In other words, water removal requires approximatelyone million times more

energy to achieve 95% TS than to achieve 2-6%TS in the biosolids.
Biosoli& Characterization,Treatment and Use 7

2. Chemical Composition

Chemical c a n p i t i o n of municipal solids varies greatly depending upon their origin

and methods of treatment.
Biosolidscuntain organic matter, macro and micronutrients and water important
for plant growth. Sixteen (16) elements out of ninety (90) found in plants are known
to be essential for plant growth and most of these elements are present in biosolids.
The elements are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur,
calcium, magnesium, iron, boron,manganese,copper, zinc, molybdenum and chlorine.
Except for boron, animals require all of these elements and, in addition, sodium,
iodine, selenium and cobalt. Some of these elements, however, can be detrimental to
human, plant or animal life if they are present above certain limits (e.g., copper, Zinc,
molybdenum, and chlorine) [6].
Certain metals and synthetic organics have been proven to be detrimental and
even toxic to human, animal and plant life at certain levels and, as such, are regulated
by respectivestatutes. Extensive studies conducted in the 1980's by U.S. EPA [7] and
subsequent analysis of the potential pollutants' concentration, fate, toxicity and
detrimental effects on humans and environment resulted in new federal regulations
which limit concentrations of ten "heavy" metals (arsenic, cadmium, chromium,
copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium and zinc) in biosolids applied
to land or disposed of by various means. Synthetic organics (organic pollutants) are
not regulated at present (1 995) unless they are at the levels that make biosolids
hazardous and subject of other federal regulations (e.g., RCRA, TOSCA). Major
solids characteristics are provided in Table 1-4 [S].
Nutrients present in biosolids are absorbed by plants as water soluble ions,
mostly throughthe mts. Dissolved mineral matter in biosolids (and in soil) is present
as cations @ Ca",I+ Me, ,K ', Na' and low levels of Fe", Mn*+,Cu", A13', Zn") and
anions (HCO, COP, HSO;, SO:, Cl-,F-, HPO;, &PO;). Table 1-5 illustrates the
nutrients' ionic forms generally present in biosolids and available for plants.
Note that carlxm is absorbed by plants mostly through leaves as COz;hydrogen
fiom water as E, HOH, and oxygen through leaves as 0,, OH- and CO,.

3 . Macronutrients

The elements generally recognized as essential macronutrientsfor plants are carbon,

hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulfur.
Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the most likely to be lacking and are
commonly added to soil as fertilizers.
Although biosolids contain relatively low levels of macro and micronutrients
when applied to soil at recommended rates they can supply all the needed nitrogen,
phosphorus as well as calcium, magnesium and many of the essential micronutrients.
8 Girovich

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (usually referred to as N-P-K) play significant

roles in biosolids beneficial use.


Item Primary Secondary
Total dry solids (TS), % -
3.0 7.0 I 0.5 - 2.0
Volatile solids (% of TS) 60 - 80 150-60
Nitrogen (N, % of TS) 1.5 - 4.0 I 2.4 - 5.0
Phosphorus (P,O,, % of TS) 0.8 - 2.8 0.5 - 0.7
Potash K O , % of TS)


Energy content (BTUAb, dry 10,000 - 12,500 8,000 - 10,000


PH 5.0 - 8.0 6.5 - 8.0

Alkalinity (m@ as CaCO,)

Range Median
a. Arsenic 1.1 -230 10
b. Cadmium 1- 3,410 10
c. chromim 10 - 99,000 500
d. Copper 84 - 17.000 800
e. Lead 13 - 26,OOO 500
f Mercury 0.6 - 56 6
g. Molybdenum 0.1 - 214 4
h. Nickel 2 - 5,300 80
i. Selenium -
1.7 17.2 5
j. Zinc 101 - 49,000 1,700
k. Iron 1,OOO- 154,000 17,000
1. Cobalt 11.3 - 2,490 30
m. Tin 2.6 - 329 14
n. Manganese 32 - 9,870 260
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 9

Nitrogen is the most critical part in the plant growth. Poor plant yields are
most often due to a deficiency of nitrogen. It is a constituent of plant proteins,
chlorophyll and other plant substances. Biosolids nitrogen exists as organic and
inorganic compounds. Organic nitrogen is usually the predominant form of nitrogen
in soils (90 percent) and in biosolids and it is not available to plants. It must be
bacterially converted to ammonium (NH,+) and eventually oxidized to nitrate (NO;)
to become biologically available.

copper cu cu2+
Zinc zn Zn2+
Molybdenum Mo MOO; (molybdate)

Boron B H,Bo3, W O i rB(OH)i

Nitrogen is a unique plant nutrient because, unlike the other elements, plants can
absorb it in either cation (NH,+) or anion (NO;) form. Nitrogen forms not absorbed
by plants volatilize or oxidize and are lost to atmosphere as N, or N20. Volatilization
of ammofiium ion dependsupon pH. The higher the pH, the more nitrogen is released
as gaseous ammonia(NH3).
The nitrogen requirements of different plants range fiom 50 to 350 kg per
hectare (45-3 12 pounds per acre). [ 11 Heavy application of nitrogen-containing
bimlids or chemical fertilizermay result in unused nitrate migrating into surface or
underground water with adverse health and environmental effects.
10 Girovich

The nitrogen content of primary biwlids is in the range of 2% 4%; in secondaryand
anaerobicallydigested biosolids it is in the 2% - 6% range (dry basis) [7].
Nitrogen in biosolids is usuallydetermined as organic nitrogen (Org-N), soluble
ammonia nitrogen (NH,-N), soluble nitrate-nitrogen (NC) -N) and total (Kjeldahl)
nitrogen (TKN).
Numerous studies have been conducted on the rate of organic nitrogen
amversion into the biologicallyavailable forms (NH,+, NO,?, called mineralization.
One method of determinkg nitrogen mineralization and availability is based on
assumptionthat 15% of organic nitrogen becomes available to plants during the first
year and 6% of the remaining, or residual organic nitrogen, is released during the
second, 4% during the third, and 2% during the fourth growing season after
application. Based on these assumptions, the available nitrogen per ton of dry
biosolids and application rate can be calculated [8]. Nitrogen is usually the limiting
factor in biosolids land application, unless they have been stabilizedby an alkaline
material (he) or contain excessive amounts of heavy metals. In this case, calcium
or heavy metal@)becomes the limiting component. A detailed nitrogen discussion is
provided in Chapter 8.
Nitrogen is available fiom chemical fertilizer in a relatively concentrated form,
typically 8 to 40percent The chemical fertilizer's nitrogen is valued, however, at $2
to $4 pea percent point while the same for organic nitrogen in biosolids is $12 to $17
per percent (1994).
Phosphorus (P) is the second most critical plant nutrient. The nucleus of each
plant cell containsphosphaus. Cell division and growth are dependentupon adequate
supply of phosphorus. The most common forms of phosphorus are organic
phosphorus and various forms of orthophosphates (H$0 ;, HPO - , PO: -) and
polyphosphates,such as Na@O,),, Na,P,O,,, Na,P,07. Phosphorus is not readily
available in most unfertilized soils and is derived primarily fi-omphosphates released
by organic matter decomposition. Organic phosphorus is decomposed by bacterial
actioninto orthophosphatePO;. Polyphosphates also decompose (hydrolyze) in water
into orthophosphates. Sigdicant portion of phosphorus compounds are water
soluble. Stable orthophosphate (PO,) is predominate form which is absorbed by
Primary wastewater solids contain relatively small amounts of phosphorus.
Secondary biosolids contain greater amounts of phosphorus which is generally
removed from wastewater by biological means.
Amounts of phosphorus in biosolids depends on phosphorus concentrationin the
influent and type of phosphorus removal used by wastewater treatment plants.
Conventional primary and waste activated processes remove only 20-30% of an
influent phosphorus and, therefore, biosolids resulting fiom these processes contain
a small amount of phosphorus (0.1 to 2%).
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 11

This amount is Sutticient for plant growth when biosolids are applied at the
niirogen requirement rate. Excessive amounts of phosphorus can eventually be built
up in the soil and result in leaching.
The phosphorus requirementsof different plants range from 0 to 95 kilograms
per hectare (0 to 85 pounds per acre). Phosphorus is not removed fiom wastewater
by aerobic or anaerobic digestion. Only chemical precipitationusing aluminum and
ironcoagulants or lime is effectivein phosphorus removal. Biosolids resulting h m
these processes may contain greater amounts of phosphorus.
The following reactions convert phosphorus b m wastewater into the forms
found in biosolids.

1. Chemical coagulation by alum, Al,(SO,),, and ferric chloride, FeCl,,

Al,(SO,), 14.3 KO + 2 PO: = 2 AlPO, + 3 SO: + 14.3 H20
FeC1, +PO;- = FePO, + 3 C1'
2. Phosphorus removal by addition of slaked lime:
Ca(HCO,), + Ca(OH), = 2 CaCO, + 2 &O (removal of water hardness)
5 Ca2++ 4 OW + 3 HPO,2- = Ca, (OH)(PO,), + 3 KO
Calcium ion in the second reaction forms precipitates containing

Potassium (K) is needed by plants for various functions, including maintaining

cell permeability, increasing resistance of plants to certain diseases, and aiding in
translocation of carbohydrates. Potassium in most soils is found in more than
sufficient amounts, however, it is not bioavailable. As a result, use of potassium
fertilizers is required. About 150 pounds per acre of potassium is needed for plant
growth. Biosolids usually Contain small amount of potassium (0.02 to 2.5% dry

4. Other Inorganic Nutrients

Calcium (Ca) is rarely deficient in plants. It is needed for cell division, it makes cells
more selective in their absorption and it is a constituent of a cell wall. Most soils
(except sandy and strongly acid ones) contain suilicient calcium supply. Calcium is
supplied to the plants by soluble calcium ions fiom calcium containing minerals such
as CaCO, Addition of CaO, Ca(OH), or CaCO, to soils is done to correct the pH of
strongly acid soils to improve nutrient availability rather than to supply calcium for
plant growth.
Biosolids contain calcium in small amounts unless they are the result of
processes where lime is used (e.g., lime stabilization).
Mamesium (Mg) is important in chlorophyll formation. There is one atom of
magnesium in each chlorophyll molecule. There would be no green plants without
12 Girovich

magnesium. Most of the plant magnesium, however, is found in plant sap and the
cytoplasm of cells.
Magnesium is taken up by the plant roots as cation M e . Magnesium
bioavailability is affected by other ions such as potassium, calcium and nitrogen.
Magnesium requirements of different plants range fiom 9 to 36 pounds per acre.
Biosolids usually contain small amounts of magnesium (0.3% - 2%,dry basis).
sulfirr ranks in importance with nitrogen and phosphorus as an essential nutrient
in the formation of plant proteins; it is also required for the synthesis of certain
vitamins in plants. Sulfkantaining organic compounds are present in biosolids and
bioavailable sulfate (SO;2) is produced as a result of microbial decomposition.
Sulfur requirements of different plants range fiom 10 to 40 pounds per acre.
Biosolids contain fiom 0.6% to 1.5% of sulfur (dry basis).

5. OrganicMatter

Organic matter, dead or alive, is largely carbon (approximately 58% by weight), with
lesser amounts of hydrogen, oxygen and other elements such as nitrogen, sulfur and
Organic matter in biosolids contains proteins, carbohydrates,fats--compounds
composed of long chains of molecules with molecular weights ranging from several
hundred to several million.
Organic matter is a nutrient source for plants and microorganisms, in sods it
improves water infiltration, aeration and aggregation of soil particles.
Microorganisms (bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and others) decompose biosolids'
organic matter and use some decomposition products (carbon, nitrogen and other
elements) for reproduction and, as a result, change the biosolids organic matter and
release certain products of decomposition (e.g., carbon dioxide, methane, volatile
organics including odor pollutants, ammonia, nitrogen, water) into the environment.
Bacteria, actinomyceteSand fungi are the most active decomposersof organic matter,
but some algae, protam, rotifers, nematodes and others participate in organic matter
dewnposition These organisms also interact in a complex manner at various stages
of wastewater and biosolids treatment processes.
Most soils Containrelatively snall amount of organic matter (1 -5% in the top 10
inches of soil) but it largely determines soil productivity.
The biosolids organic matter can have a profound effect on the soil physical
propxt~essuch as soil fertility, humus formation, bulk density, aggregation,porosity,
and water retention. A decrease in bulk density, for example, provides for a better
environment for plant root growth. The high organic carbon content of biosolids
provides an immediate energy source for soil microbes. The nitrogen in biosolids is
in a slowly available organic form which provides for a reliable nitrogen supply.
Increasedaggregation results in better tilth and less potential for erosion and reduction
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 13

of runoff. Water retention and increased hydraulic conductivity provide necessary

water for plants, especially during drought.
Biologically active organic components of biosolids include polysaccharides,
such as cellulose, fats, resins, organic nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus compounds,
etc.; they contribute to the formation of soil humus, a water-insoluble material that
biodegrades very slowly and is the product of bacterial decomposition of plant

6. Micronutrients

Micronutrients such as iron, zinc, copper,manganese, boron, molybdenum (for N-

htion), sodium,vanadium, and chlorine, are needed by plants in small quantitiesbut
they are quite important as catalysts in numerous biological processes. The role of
chlorine, except for its part in root growth, is not well known. Excessive quantities
of some of the micronutrients can render biosolidshazardous to human health, plant
and animal life.
Soil and biosolids pH influences micronutrient availability. All metals except
molybdenum are more bioavailable at low pH (acidic environment). In near neutral
and alkaline environments,metals form insoluble oxides or hydroxides and become
nonbioavailable. Also, toxicity caused by excess level of micronutrientsmay O C C U T .
A detailed discussion concerningmicronutrients is provided in Chapter 8.

7 . Pollutants

Biosolids usually contain organic and inorganic components which can adversely
affect plant and animal life as well as human health if present at excessive levels.
Inorganic pollutants include ten "heavy" or trace metals presently regulated by the
U.S. EPA arsenic, cadmium,chromium,copper, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel,
selenium and zinc. Ranges and mediancOncentrafioIlS of heavy metals in biosolids are
provided in Table 1 4 .
Arsenic, a toxic metalloid, has been the chemical villain of more than a few
murder plots. The combustionof coal introduces large quantities of arsenic into the
a w t S o m e f m l y used pesticides contain highly toxic arsenic compounds
as well as some mine tailings. The U.S. EPA has classified arsenic as a human
carcinogen. Arsenic content in biosolids varies widely (Table 1-4).
Cadmium comesh r nmetal plating and mining wastes. Cadmium is chemically
similar to zinc (both are divalent cations) and replaces zinc causing acute cadmium
poisoning (ludney damage, high blood pressure and destruction of red blood cells).
According to the U.S. EPA, cadmium is a probable human carcinogen. Cadmium
content in biosolidsvaries fiom few to over 3,500 mg/kg, dry basis.
Chromium comes fkom metal plating and mine tailing. It is an essential trace
element. Hexavalent chromium is classified by the U.S. EPA as a human carcinogen,
14 Girovich

Cmuer unnes fiom industrial discharges, mining and mineral leaching; it is an

essential trace element, not very toxic to animals, toxic to plants and algae at moderate
levels. Copper is not classified as a carcinogen.
Lead comes from a number of industrial and mining sources, leaded gasoline,
plumbing, lead bearing minerals, etc. It causes kidney, reproductive system, liver,
brain and central nervous system disfunctions. Lead is classified by the U.S. EPA as
a probable human carcinogen.
Mercury generates the most concern of the heavy metal pollutants. It comes
from minerals, coal combustion, pesticides and fungicides, batteries, and
pharmaceutical products. Toxicological effects include neurological damage, birth
defects, depression, etc. Mercury tends to accumulate in seafood due to formation of
soluble organic mercury compounds. The U.S. EPA has not classified the
carcinogenicity of mercury because of inadequate evidence.
Molybdenum comes fiom natural sources and industrial discharges; possibly
toxic to animals, essential for plants. The US. EPA has not classified the
carcinogenicityof molybdenum because of inadequate evidence.
Nickel sources are mineralsand industrial discharges. Nickel deficiency has not
been demonstrated to be essential for the proper growth and development of plants or
animals. However, excessive levels of this element produce toxic effects in plants,
animals and humans. The U S . EPA has classified nickel as a probable human
Selenium sources are minerals, coal and industrial discharges. It is essential at
low levek, toxic at higher levels. The U.S. EPA has not classified the Carcinogenicity
of selenium because of inadequate evidence.
comeshindushial waste, metal plating and plumbing. It is an essential
element in many metall- and aids wound healing; it is toxic to plants at higher
levels. Zinc occurs in biosolids in relatively large quantities and could limit land
application. Zinc requirements vary considerably from crop to crop (e.g., alfalfa
requirements are 0.5 pounds per acre, approximately).
- Dollutants, among others, include hazardous organic substances
regulated under RCRA or TOSCA standards.
Moredetailedstudyofbiosolidspollutantscanbefoundin[9], [lo], [ll], [13],
and [14].

B. Microbiology of Biorolida
Biosolids contain diverse life forms. These microscopic living organisms have both
beneficial and detrimental roles in the biosolids treatment and use practices.
Microorganisms in biosolids can be categorized into bacteria, including
actinomycetes, Viruses, helminths (parasitic worms), protozoa, rotifers and fungi. A
limited number of these organisms are pathogenic (i.e., they may cause various human
and animal diseases). One of the major objectives of biosolids treatment is pathogen
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 15

elimination or reduction to acceptable levels. Current regulations do not address

protozoa, rotifem and fungi as organisms subject to pathogen requirements because
of the lack of analytical methods and because EPA concluded that these organisms are
unlikely to survivewastewater and biosolids treatment processes and, thus, should not
cause an adverse effect in biosolids use [I].
Bacteria are the smallest living organisms. Most bacteria reproduce by division
into two identical cells. Bacteria are very diacult to class@. They are composed of
water (80%) and dry matter (20%), about 90% of which is organic. Bacterial dry
matter contains carbon (48%), nitrogen (7- 12%),phosphorus (1 .O-3.0%), potassium
(1.0 - 4.5%), sulfur (0.2-1.0%)and trace elements, such as magnesium, sodium,
calcium, iron, copper, manganese, and molybdenum. Bacterial organic matter
contains proteins (50-60%), carbohydrates (6-15%), lipids and organic acids [12].
Actinomvcetes are a large group of organisms which look like elongated cells or
flaments. Same actinomycetes have characteristics common to fungi. Actinomycetes
are commonin biosolids and soils. They are saprophytes and decompose a wide range
of organic compounds such as difficult to decompose long chain hydrocarbons,
complex aromatic compounds, pesticides and dead microbial biomass. They also
decompose readily degradable compounds such as amino acids, sugars and organic
acids. They usually grow more slowly than most other bacteria. Some actinomycetes
are aerobes, some are anaerobes,and they thrive at a pH of 6.0 to 8.5. Actinomycetes
are o h found in activated biosolids and scum developed over the aeration tanks and
secondary clarifiers. The most fiequently reported genera in activated sludge
processes are Arthrobacter, Corynebacterium, Mycobacterium, Nocardia and
Rhodococcus [1 21.
Coliform bacteria, especially fecal coliforms,are natural, normally harmless
microscopic inhabitants of the intestines of all warm-blooded animals including
humans. Coliform bacteria coexist in fecal material with pathogenic or disease-
Causing organisms such as Certain bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Coliform bacteria
are also found in soil and on vegetable matter. They are highly concentrated in
wastewater and biosolids and generally sparse or not present in other habitats. The
presence of coliform bacteria in biosolids and water is considered an indication of
Contamination. Typical average coliform bacteria populations in biosolids and other
materials are (organisms per gram, dry weight) [l 11:

- Unstabilized biosolids: l,ooo,000,000

- Aerobically digested biosolids: 30,000-6,OOO,000
* Humanfeces: 50,000,000,000
8 Disinfected effluent: 100
- Wastewater: 8,ooo,000

One of the coliform bacteria, Escberichiu coli (E. coli), is a natural inhabitant
only in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and, therefore, its presence indicates
16 Glrovich

fecal contamination and possible presence of pathogens. Fecal coliforms are the
principal indicator organisms (along with Salmonella sp. bacteria) for evaluatingthe
microbiologicalcontamination of biosolids.
Fecal stre~tomcciinclude the entexwmxs group and several species associated
with nonhuman warm-blooded animal wastes. Enterococci are enteric bacteria fiom
humans and their presence indicates contamination of human origin. Fecal coliform
tofecal streptococcusratio can help idenw sources of contamination. Ratios greater
than 4.4 indicate fecal pollution of human origin; ratios less than 0.7 indicate fecal
pollution b m nonhuman sources.
Salmonella SD. routinely found in unstabilized biosolids, compost handling
facilities and 1andfYls cause various diseases such as acute gastroenteritis (food
poisoning), typhoid fever, and salmonellosis.
While indicators very useful in assessing microbiological contamination, no
indicatorspecies is perfect. Coliforms, for example, die off very quickly in water (half
life is about 15 hours and only few coliforms survive more than 3 days); however,
coliforms may live significantly longer in biosolids.
Viruses are acellular particles which carry genetic reproductive information but
are incapable of living outside a host cell. They are extremely small (0.01-0.25
micmmter cr micron, pn)and extremely host-cell specific. More than 100 different
viruses may be present in untreated biosolids. The major concerns with viruses are
theirpotential for disease transmission and conditions necessary for their destruction
in biosolids. Diseases associated with specSc pathogenic bacteria and viruses and are
summarizedin Table 1-6.
Protozoa ("firstanimals") are very small (5 to lo00 pm in size), single celled
animals comprising a diverse group. Protozoa need water; they are present in all
aerobic wastewater treatment plants. Their role is important in the activated solids
processes (up to 50,OOO o r g a n i d d or about 5% of the dry weight of suspended
solids in the mixed liquor); they are present in trickling filters; rotating biological
contactors (RBC); oxidation ponds, and natural and manmade wetlands.
Protozoa are parasitic (live on or in other life forms) or fi-ee living. Many are
parasites of animals. Protozoa are of four different nutritional types: autotrophs
(plant-like forms capable of absorbing sunlight and using carbon dioxide to produce
organic compounds); saprobic organisms (animal-like forms that do not contain
chlqhyll IWT require light but rely on the organic soluble compounds); phagotrophs
(forms thatfeed on bacteria), and carnivorousprotozoa which feed on other protozoa.
Some protozoa require oxygen and some do not use it and are often unable to
grow in its presence.
Optimum pH for protozoa survival is in the 6.0 to 8.0 range. At pH below 5.0
and higher than 8.0 their population is adversely affected. Light is important for
autotrophs. Many protozoa compete with one another for bacteria as a food supply,
while others compete with bacteria and other saprobic protozoa for soluble organics.
Biosolids Characterization,Treatment and Use 17

Fmtcma play a sigmficantrole in bacterial removal from wastewater including

pathogenic bacteria that cause diseases such as diphtheria, cholera, typhus and
streptococcal infiions, as well as removal of fecal bacteria such as Escherichia coli.
Protozoa are helpful in flocculating suspended particulate matter and bacteria thus
aiding both clarification of the effluent and formation of biosolids.
Such protozoa as Entamoeba histoktica and Giardia lamblia are common in
biosolids, especially in warm climates. Their cysts are quite resistant to disinfection.
Rotifers ("wheel bearers") are the simplest and smallest of the
macroinvertebrates found in wastewater and biosolids. They are fiee swimming
organisms and range in size from 40 to 500 um (microns) and have an average life
span of 6 to 45 days. Rotifers perform many beneficial roles in stabilizing the organic
wastes of lagoons and fixed-filmand activated biosolids processes. In lagoons rotifers
feed on phytoplankton or algae. In the activated sludge process, rotifers consume
large quantities of bacteria and enhanceflcc f d o n . Generally in aerobic processes
the rotifers' large consumption of bacteria and solids contributes to BOD reduction.
Helminths (parasitic intestid worms and flukes) and Nematodes (roundworms)
are tire living, microscopic (0.5-3.0millimeters long and 0.02 to 0.05 mm wide) and
nacn>scopic organisms (Rrcaris lumbricoides (roundwonn), sometimes reaching 20-
40cm in the intestine) whch include various worms such as hookworms, pinworms,
whipworms, eelworms, roundworms, and many others. They are present in aerobic
processes with abundance of oxygen and microbial food (e.g., trickling filters,
activated sludge processes). Some nematodes survive temperatures as high as 117OF
(47°C)and are most active at pH between 3.5 and 9.0.
Ascaris lumbricoides are a serious potential danger to humans from biosolids.
Most helminths and nenato$eeggs and cysts tend to accumulate in primary biosolids.
Table 1-6 lists major pathogenic h e h t h s and nematodes and potential diseases.
m. Over 80,OOO fungal species have been identified, most of which
decompose organic matter. They can be broadly categorized as yeasts or molds.
Fungi consist of tubular, filamentous branches 10 to 50 um in diameter. They
reproduce by forming spores which are quite hardy. About 50 fungal species can
cause human infections afFecting primarily lungs, skin, hair and nails.
Fungi are less dependent on moisture than bacteria and can grow on dry
biwlids absorbing moisture fiom atmosphere. They can withstand broad range of pH
and temperature. Fungi are important industrial microbes. Yeasts are used in
production of alcohols and to synthesize antibiotics, organic acids and enzymes.
Most wastewater treatment processes remove pathogens from the wastewater
and trader them into biosolids. While wastewater is being cleaned, biosolids that are
generated by the treatment processes contain a number of pathogenic organisms.
Primary biosolids have large numbers of alive and dead protozoa cysts and helminth
and nematode eggs. Secondarybiosolids contain sigdicant numbers of bacteria and
viruses. For example, Salmonella are removed at 90% to 99% efficiencies fiom the
water and end up in the biosolids.
18 Girovich

orb- Dlsepee Mode of Trnnsmlssion

L Bacteria and Actinomywtca
1.1 Colifonn species

1.2 Mbrio cholera

1.3 Salmonella species
Chmmon in biosolids

1.4 Salmonella @phi

Typhoidfever I$: in biosolids
1.5 Shinella Shigellosis (bacillary djwnbry) Polluted water
1.6 Bacillus Anrhracis Anthrax Diseascofanimals,rartin

~~~~~ ~

1.7 Brucella Brucellosis Infectedmilkormeat

Found in biosolids
1.8 Mycyobacterium Tubennrlosis Found in biosolids
1.9 Leptospira Leptospkis cordaminaiadfoodanddrink
inrerohaemorrhagiae Found in biosolids
1.10 Yersinia entercolitica Gdmenkh
.. contaminatedfoodanddrink
1.11 Esherichia coli Gastroenten'ti8 contaminatedwaterandfood
(usually Common in biosolids
1.12 CbsMdium rerani Tetanus Woundcontact
Found in biosolids
1.13 Nocardia spp. Lung disease (nocardiosis) Inhalation and contact with
Found in biosolids
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 19

TABLE 1-6 (COW.)

I Mode of TrPRmtlsston

1.14 Actinomycetes israelii Actinomycosis (meninsitiS. Inhalation and contact with

mdocarditis,genitalinfdons) skin
Found in biosolids

1.15 Camphlobacterspp. Acute enteritis contaminatedfoodanddrink

Found in biosolids

2.1 Polio virus Poliomyelitis F d in biosolids

Polio vaccine eliminates

2.2 v i HeDatitis A Found in biosolids

2.3 Cowadcievirua, Mild infdons, meningitis,diarrhea Inhalation,water

echovirus ininf~heartdisease, Found in biosolids

2.4 Adenovirus,reovirus Respkatoryinfections,influenza, Inhalation,water

cold&bronchitis. diarrhea Found in biosolids

2.5 Rotavirus,calicivirus Viralgssh’oenteritis Inhalation,water

3.1 Entamoeba histolitica Amoebic dysentery In untreated biosolids used aa

a fertilizer,resistant to

3.2 Giardia lamblia Giardicrsis Cysts are not destroyed by

disinfection; found in

3.3 Criptospridium Found in biosolids

3.4 Balantidiurn coli Dysentcly Found in biosolids

4.1 Ascaris lumbricoides; Ascariasis (large inlestinal Ingestion ofeggs in food or

ascaris suum roundworm) drink
Awominal pain, digestive F d in biosolids wet and
dkhhms, fever, chest pain dry;mostcommonof
20 Girovich

TABLE 1-6 (COW.)


I Disease I ModeofTrnnsmission

4.2 Ancylostoma Ingestionof eggs

duodenale, Necator Found in biosolids

4.3 Enterobius Pinworm (enterobiasis) Ingestion of eggs

vennicularis Easily curable with drugs

4.4 Trichuris trichiura Whipworm (irichuriasis) Ingestion of eggs

Abdominalpain,diarrhea Easily curable with drugs
Found in biosolids

14.5 Taenfasaginato IAbdominal pain, disturbances IFound in biosolids

4.6 Cat, dog,beef, pork
Worm infections in humans
I Ingestion of eggs

Ingestion of eggs
4.7 Variouskernatodes Intestid, lung and liver flukes
(flukes) Found in biosolids

5.1 Aspergillusficmigatus Aspergillosk, lung infection Inhalation of spores

Found in biosolids and
serious offungal infections


5.2 Candida albicans Candidiasis (iection of lungs, skin, Inhalation of spores

~~ ~~
5.3 Coccidioides immitis Lung infection Inhalation of spores
and Histo-plasma Fungus grows on biosolids in
capsulatum warm and moist conditions

5.4 Blastomyces Blastomycosis(lung infection) Inhalation of spates


5.5 cryptococcus Cryptoauwxis (lung infection) Inhalation of spores


5.6 Sporothrix schenkii Sporotrichosis Brokenskincontact

When biosolids are applied to land, humans and animals can be exposed to
pathogens directly by coming into contact or indirectly by Consuming water or food
Contaminated by pathogens. Insects, birds, rodents and people involved in biosolids
processing can also contributeto the exposure.
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 21

Some pathogenic organisms have limited survival time in the environment

Table 1-7 provides the survival times for major pathogens in soil and on plants.
Pathogens can be destroyed by various treatments, such as heat (high
temperature) ‘generated by physical, chemical or biological processes. Sufficient
temperatures maintained for sufficiently long t i e periods can reduce bacteria, viruses,
protozoan cysts and helminth ova to below detectable levels (helminth ova are the
most resistant to heat treatment). Chemical processing with disinfectants (e.g.,
chlorine, ozone, lime, etc.) can also reduce bacteria, viruses and vector attraction.
High pH conditions, for example, may completely destroy viruses and bacteria but
have little or no effect on helminth eggs. Gamma and high energy electron beam
radiation treatment depends on dosage with viiuses being most resistant. Reduction
of pathogenic organisms can be measured using microbiological analysis directly or
by monitoring non-pathogenic organisms-indicators.


Existing regulations require monitoring for representative pathogens and non-

pathogenic indicator organisms (fecal colifom bacteria). Direct monitoring is
required for the three common types of pathogens: bacteria, viruses and viable
helminth ova. [ I ]
There are test procedures available to determine viability of helminth ova and
certain types of enterovirus species. No test procedure is available for bacteria. When
direct monitoring of bacteria is important, Salnionellu sp. are used. They are good
indicators of reduction of other bacterial pathogens.
Microorganism density is defined by cui-rent regulations as nuitrber of
mio-oorganisnw per zinir mass of rota1 solids (dy weight) [IS].
For liquid biosolids, density is determined as number of microorganisms per 100
milliliters. The microorganisms in biosolids are associated with the solid phase.
When biosolids are dewatered, the number of microorganisms per unit volume
changes significantly whereas the number per unit mass of solids remains almost
constant. Units and methods used to count microorganisms vaiy (e.g., viable ova are
22 Girovich

observed and individually counted under a microscope). Viruses are counted in

plaque-forming units (PFU). Each PFU is an infection zone were a single virus
infcctcd a layer of animal cells.
For bacteria the count is in colony-foiming units (CFU) or most probable
number (MI"). CFU is a count of colonies on an agar plate and it is not necessarily
a count of individual organisms. MPN is a statistical estimate of numbers in an
original sample. The sample is diluted at least once into tubes containing nutrient
medium; there are several duplicates at each dilution. The original bacterial density
in the sample is estimated bascd on the numbcr of tubes that show growth.
Under existing regulations, the pathogen density limits are expressed as numbers
of PFUs, CFUs, or MI" per four (4.0) grams total solids. (This approach was
developed because most ofthe tests start with 100 mL of biosolids which typically
contain 4 grams of solids.) Densities of total and fecal colifoim, however, are given
on a "per gram" basis. [3], [ 151

C. Odors and Other Nuisances

Biosolids treatment and managcmcnt practices are greatly influenced by odor and
other pollutant and nuisance factors such as dusts (particulate matter), gaseous and
liquid discharges, and vectors (insects, birds, rodents, etc.).
Biosolids are mherently odorous and if handled improperly can create offensive
odors and other pollutants and nuisances which may cost a lot of time and money to
Control of odors is one of the most difficult problems in biosolids treatment and
management. It is especially true if biosolids are beneficially used.
Dealing with odors and nuisances is often not a technical issue but rather a
matter of public acceptance, public education and human perception. Regulatory
requirements concerning odors are often poorly defined leaving much room for
interpretation and arbitrary action. Odor is an increasingly sensitive subject, and it is
one of the first (and frequently most important) issues concerning the public.

1 . Odor co"l~'olilld~9

Although the exact origin, chemical composition and fate of many odors from
biosolids are difficult to classify and not well studied, it is also true that the
overwhelming majority of odor compounds are by-products of decomposition and
decay of organic matter. Therefore, the most effective control measures are based on
preventing or managing this decomposition cycle.
Raw organic material brought by the influent settles into primary solids largely
without microbiological decomposition. Primary solids are untreated solids from
residential and industrial sources which makes them potentially the most odorous.
Secondaiy solids are primarily products of aerobic microbiological activity.
Biosolids Characterization,Treatment and Use 23

Microorganisms decompose and metabolize organic matter, decrease the amounts of

raw organics and increase organic matter attributable to live and dead
Microbiological decomposition of raw organic materials results in the use of
some elements (carbon, nitrogen and others) by microbes, formation of new and
modified organic compounds and the release of products such as carbon dioxide,
water, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, methane and considerable amounts of other
partially decomposed organic compounds. A sigmficant number of these organic
compounds are strong odor pollutants.
Fatty acids (e.g. acetic acid, a.k.a. vinegar), ammonia and amines (organic
derivatives of ammonia), aromatic organics based on the benzene ring with nitrogen
atom (e.g. indole and skatole), hydrogen sulfide, organic sulfides (e.g. mercaptans) and
numerous other organic compounds have been identified as malodorous pollutants.
Classifidon of these odor pollutants is difficult due to their low concentration,
complexity of molecular sh-ucture, often short life span in the air, variety of sources
and conditions, etc. However, two large groups can be identified: (1) sulfiu-
containing organic compounds and (2) nitrogen-containingcompounds. Mercaptans
(general formula C&SH) comprise a large group of strong odor pollutants in the
sulfur containing group along with various organic sulfides ( C W ) and hydrogen
sulfide N S ) . In the nitrogen containing group, various complex amines (CJ-IJW)
are strong odor pollutants along with ammonia (NH3)and some others containing N,
NH, radicals. With few exceptions (notably ammonia and some amines), their
threshold odor concentration is very low (fiaction of ppb). Table 1-8 lists these odor
pollutants, their chemical formula and their recognition threshold.

2. Odor Measurement

Instrument-based odor detection has been advancingrapidly, able now to detect odors
in parts per billion concentrationfor a sigdicant number of compounds. Instrumental
odor detection preferred by the engineering Community has a limited use due to the
complexity and variety of odors,considerable amount of time and money required and,
more importantly, the availability of the human nose, still the best receptor that senses
odors better (in some cases three orders of magnitude better) than any instrument has
yet been able to do. Therefore, the human nose is still the most common means for
detecting and measuring odors.
The human nose provides a subjective odor evaluation and a number of
organoleptic methods (i.e., using the human olfactory system) have been developed
to improve reliability and to quant.@ odor compounds. Most common is the "odor
panel technique" (ASTM Method E-679).
The odor panel technique involves a panel of four to sixteen members who are
exposed to odor samplesdiluted with odor-fiee air. The number of dilutions required
to achieve a f%y percent positive response fiom the members is called the threshold
24 Glrovich

odor concentration (TOC) which is considered to be the minimum concentration

detectable by the average person. If, for example, nine volumes of diluting air added
to cme volume of odor sample generate a SffY percent positive response, this pseudo-
concentrationis reported as ten dilutions to TOC. In this case, the above sample is
&lined as having an "odor concentration" of ten odor units (100~). An odorous
cOmpOund diluted to its TOC has a concentration of 1.Oou. The stronger the odor, the
him is its odor Unit number. Several Merent nomenclatures are used to determine
the number of required dilutions: a) the odor unit (ou); b) the effective dose at 50%
positive panel response (ED&; c) dilutions to threshold OR);d) dilution ratio 2, etc.
AU of theseam essentially the same. The odor unit and ED, are most common units
in odor panel technique. The TOC is the minimum concentrationof an odorant that
will arouse a sensation. A numbex of diffaent TOCs have been determined. The most
common is odor recognition threshold (Table 1-8), i.e. the odorant concentrationat
which 50% of the odor panel detected the odor.[161
odw cuncentratimin excess Of 50U are easily recogrued by most people and,
regardless of odor type, represent the threshold level of complaint (distraction
threshold) [l 11. At lOou complaints are assured. An ambient air odor concentration
of 2ou maximum is often adopted at the plant boundary to avoid public complaint. A
number of inherent difficulties are associated with organoleptic odor measurement.
Collection and storage of samples is often an unreliable and expensive process;
comparing results of Merent methods is quite confusing. A detailed discussion of
odor science, measurements and odor treatment is provided in [ll], [16], [17], [19],
[20]. Complete elimination of odors may be the goal; however, the best way to avoid
complaints is through odor prevention, management and control to acceptably low

Portable Instrumental Methods: Currently there are several portable

instrumental methods that can measure air concentrations of a number of
gaseous compwnds(ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, etc.) quite accurately even to
very low concentrations. For example, to measure H.$, there are two types of
portable instruments: a gel-cell detector which detects &S in the 0- 100 ppm
range and a more sensitive gold film conductivity type able to detect as little as
one ppb (e.g., marketed by Arizona Instrument Co.).
Draeaer Detector Tubes: Draeger detector tubes measure one odor compound
at a time. A sealed graduated tube contains a special packing which changes
color proportionately to the odor compound concentration. Ammonia,
hydmgensulfide,dimethyl &ide,and some other odors can bedetected by
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 25



Hydrogen Sulfide HZS 3-5 Rotten eggs

Ally1 Mercaptan CH,*CH-CH,*SM 0.05 Strong garlic
k n y l Mercaptan CH,*(CH,),CH,*SII 0.3 Putrid,
Beilzyl Mercaptan I C,HcCH,*SH I 0.2 I Unpleasant
Crotyl Mercaptaii CH,*CH.CH*CH,*SH 0.03 Skunk-like

Ethyl Mercaptan C,H,SIi 0.2 Decayed

Methyl Mercaptan CH,*SIi 1.o Decayed
Propyl Mercaptaii CH,*CH,*CH,*SIi 0.07 Unpleasant

Tert-Butyl (CH,), C-SII 0.08 Skunk-like

Organic Sulfides:
Diinethyl Sulfide (CH,)zS 2.5 Decayed
Diplienyl Sulfide (C3,)zS c0.05 Unpleasant
Dimethyl Disulfide (CH,hS, c0.05 Unpleasant
Thiomesol CH,.C,H;SH 0.1 Skunk-like
~ ~ ~

Thiophenol C,H,SH 0.06 Garlic-like

Sulfur Dioxide SO1 9.0 Pungent,

Anunonia I NH, 3,000-15,000 Sharp, pungent

Butylaiiiine C,H,.CH,CH,.NH, 10 knnioniacal
Dibutylaniiiie (C,H&*N*H 16 Fishy
26 Girovich

Odor Odor ChnrPetertstlC
PoUutnnt Formula Recognition Odor

Ethyl& GWHi 800 Ammdacal

Methylamine CH,NH, 200 Putrid, fishy
Triethylamine (GH,XN 80 Ammoniacal

Cadaverine NH,*(CH,),*NH, c1.0 Decayingflesh
Indole WJYH <1.0 Fecal

pyridine C6HP 3-5 Irritating

Skatnle w 1-2 Fecal

Acetaldehyde CH,CHO 4.0 Pungent, h i t y

Chlorophenol CI*C,H,O 0.2 Medicinal

color proportionately to the odor compound concentration. Ammonia, hydrogen

sulfide, dimethyl sulfide, and some other odors can be detected by Draeger
tubes. Certain compounds present in the air during testing may cause
interference and affect the accuracy of the odor measurement by Draeger
detector tubes.
Portable Gas Chrmnatomhs Portablegas chromatographs are able to analyze
many different compounds. Flame ionization BID) and flame photometric
detection (FPD) are used to detect hydrocarbon, nitrogen-containing(by FID)
and s u h r a t a i n i n g organics (by FPD). Detection hmits are usually in the 10-
200 ppb range [I 13.
Mass Smctrometrv/Gas ChromatomaDhv: Mass SpectrometrylGas
Chromatography (MSIGS) is based on matching a unique mass spectrum of a
sample cOmpOund with the spectra of different known compounds stored in the
library. It is very accurate and sensitive, although a time-consuming and quite
expensive methodology.
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 27

3. Odor Coiilrol

Numerous odor control methods are employed in biosolids treatment and disposal.
Generally, two fundamental approaches are used:

a. Source control: Elimination, minimization and containing odors at the source

or point of use by selecting an appropriate treatment, equipment or handling
process; and
b. Removal of odors generated by a process by treating the process exhaust prior
to its release into the atmosphere.

Source controls may include the addition of chemicals to suppress generation of

odors (e.g., pH adjustment by lime, injection of odor suppressing chemicals, etc.),
aeration, and enclosing of the process and handling equipment.. Odor removal and
reduction techniques include absorption (e.g., scrubbing by water solutions),
adsorption (e.g., activated carbon systems), theimal destruction (incineration,
afterburning), atmospheric dilution, masking, etc. A more detailed discussion on
specific odor conti-ols is provided in Chapters 3,4,5,6 and 7.

D. Other Characteristics

Other biosolids characteristics which have considerable effect on selection and

perfoimance of a treatment process and type of equipment are:

particle size, granularity
angles of repose, fall and slide
flowability and transportability (rheological properties)
hygroscopicity (for dried biosolids)
presence of foreign matter, grit and fibrous material

1. TraiisporIability

Liquid biosolids, whch are physically quite similar to water, can be pumped relatively
easily using cenmfugal, plunger, progressive cavity, diaplu-ap, piston or other types
of pumps.
Liquid biosolids (up to approsimately 6% TS) are usually Newtonian fluids, i.e.,
pressure loss is yopoitional to the velocity and viscosity under laminar flow
28 Girovich

conditions. The flow becomes turbulent at certain critical velocity (usually 1.2-2.0
d s e c . or 4-6 Wsec.).
The pressure drop in pumping liquid biosolids may be up to 25 percent greater
than for water. In turbulent regimes, the losses may be two to four times the losses of
The transition from laminar to turbulent flow regime depends on the Reynolds
number which is inversely proportional to the fluid viscosity. The precise Reynolds
number at which the change of regimes occurs is generally uncertain for biosolids.
Thickened (and especially dewatered) biosolids are non-Newtonian fluids which
become plastic as dryness increases. This means, among other things, that the
pressure losses are not proportional to flow, so the viscosity is not a constant. Special
procedures are required to deteimine losses for these biosolids under laminar and
turbulent regimes.
Prior to treatment, liquid biosolids are usually ground. Grinding is essential
when pumping with progressive cavity pumps, prior to dewatering, heat treatment, or
other processes. Newer designs of grinders are significantly more reliable and durable
than types used in the past.
In certain instances in which quality of the end product is very important (e.g..
production of pelletized fertilizer), biosolids degritting and foreign matter removal is
skongly advisable. For liquid biosolids, degritting and foreign matter removal can be
achieved by using cyclone degritters which employ a centrifugal force to remove
heavier grit and foreign particles or by using a microscreen separation. In the case of
dried biosolids, the foreign matter is usually removed by screening.
fickened and especially dewatered biosolids are significantly more difficult to
transport, meter and store and carehl attention should be paid to the selection of
pumps, conveyance and storage amangements.
Piping design is also an important factor. Biosolids piping is rarely less than
150mm (6 inches) in diameter. Deposits quite often develop inside pipes, resulting
in an increase of the losses and, unless cleaning measures are implemented, ultimately
in failure.
Dewatered biosolids have rather ill-defined characteristics in terms of their flow
properties, or rheology. Direct measurement of biosolids' rheological properties
(viscosity, Reynolds number, shear stress) is time-consuming, not veiy informative
and, in most cases, does not provide usehl information. Many biosolids properties are
extremely dfiicult to predict due to numerous variables involved. For example, it has
been observed that dewatered biosolids (in the 35 to 45% TS range) exhibit unique
properties which are often referred to as a "glue-like'' or "plastic" phase. In that
condition, biosolids tend to foim a sticky inass, often shaped as large balls. This glue-
like material is veiy difficult to handle, and this condition should be recognized and
anticipated when designing biosolids treatment or conveyance.
Mechanical conveyors (predominantly screw and belt type) and, more recently,
shaftless screw conveyors and sFecial positive displacement, single and double piston
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 29

pumps are used to transport dewatered biosolids. Enclosed conveyors and pumps in
particular have the important advantage of containing odors.

2. Srorabilitj

Storage of biosolids is often required to accommodate variations in the rate of

biosolids production and to allow accumulation during periods when subsequent
processing facilities are not operational (weekends, downtime, etc.). Biosolids storage
is also important to ensure uniform feed to various treatment processes such as
dewatering, drying, incineration, chemical stabilization, etc.
Short-term liquid biosolids storage may be accomplished in settling and
thickening tanks. Long-term liquid biosolids storage can be provided in aerobic and
anaerobic digesters, specially designed separate storage tanks or in-ground lagoons.
Tanks usually have storage capacity ranging from several hours to a few days while
lagoons may provide up to several years of liquid biosolids storage. If storage is for
longer periods, biosolids will deteriorate (e.g., turn septic) unless kept under aerobic
conditions. Special prewvative chemicals, such as chlorine, lime, sodium hydroxide
and hydrogen peroxide, have been employed to prevent deterioration but these have
met with only limited success. Entirely different problems arise when dewatered
biosolids are stored in silos (tanks), lagoons and stockpiles. The most challenging
problem in this situation is to select a type of conveyance and a device to remove
biosolids from the storage silos without material bridging and ratholing, uneven
discharge, etc. Usually screw feeders and various types of "live bottom" storage bins
are used with varying degrees of success.

3. Fuel Value

Biosolids contain organic matcrial and thus have a fuel value that can potentially be
realized. Biosolids heat content is approximately 5,500 kcalkg ( 10,000 BTU per
pound) of dry volatile solids or 2,500 to 3,000 kcalkg (4,500 to 5,500 BTUAb.) of
total d ~ matter.
y By way of comparison, coal has a fuel value of 7,750 kcalkg (1 4,000

4. Fertilizer Value

Commercial chemical fertilizers commonly contain nitrogen, phosphorus and

potassium (N-P-K) simultaneously or separately. The N-P-K value of very common
fertilizer is 8-8-8 (i.e., 8% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus [as P,O,] and 8% potassium [as
&O]). Biosolids on average (on dry weight basis) contain 4% nitrogen, 0.1YOto 1 .O%
phosphorus and an even smaller amount of potassium (an N-P-K 4-1-0).
30 Girovich

Organic nitrogen in biosolids is valued commercially higher (typically at $12 to

$17 per percent of nitrogen) than chemical fertilizer's nitrogen ($2 to $4 per
percentage point).
Biosolids can be land applied as a fertilizer substitute, either directly or as an
addtive (filler) in the chemical fertilizer mix or in combination with other beneficial
products, such as lime, other alkaline materials and sludges, incineration ash, etc.
Certain physical requirements (such as density, moisture, amount of dust, particle size,
spreadability, uniformity, durability, minimum odors, etc.) must be addressed in order
to use biosolids as a fertilizer or fertilizer additive.
Despite considerable amounts of knowledge available for biosolids processing
and management, a frustrating and expensive situation may occur if biosolids
pi-opei-tiesare not fully evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A smoothly iunning pilot
plant, when expanded into a full-scale production process, may unexpectedly fail. It
is even more rislq to assume that a full-scale operation can succeed on the basis of
preliminary information or laboratory studies.
"ExFeiienceis the best teacher" is especially tiue in the sometimes unpredictable
world of biosolids processing and disposal with its many variables and potentially
costly surprises.


A. Beneficial Uses

The organic matter and nutrient content of biosolids make them a valuable resource
to use as a fertilizer and soil conditioner for agricultural crops; to improve marginal
and reclaim disturbed lands; to increase forest productivity and to stabilize and
revegetate forest land devastated by fires or other natural disasters. Biosolids products
are veiy effective in revegetating areas destroyed by mining and dredge spoil areas.
Fertilizing highway median strips and use as a landfill daily, maintenance and final
cover are additional mcthods of beneficially using biosolids. While Section 405(e) of
the Clean Water Act (CWA) reseivcs the choice of use and disposal practices to local
communities, the U.S. EPA actively suppoi-ts the beneficial use of biosolids. When
quality of biosolids with respect to pollutants is a limiting factor for beneficial use,
POTWs can implement or increase local pretreatment efforts to control discharge
limits for nondoniestic wastewater discharges in accordance with National
Pretreatment Standards. Over 2,000 POTWs in the United States established these
programs (1 992).
The following beneficial use methods are practiced in the U.S.A. [ I ] :
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 31

1. Application on Agricultural Land

Approximately 1.17 million dry metric tons, or 21.6% of total biosolids generated in
the U.S.A. (5.4 million dry metric tons in 1989), were used to improve soils for
agricultural crops and pastures [l]. Liquid biosolids are usually surface applied or
injected into the surface layer of the soil. Dewatered and dried biosolids are typically
applied to the land surface by equipment similar to that used for applying chemical
fermizers,limestone,and animal manures and then incorporated by plowing or discing
(except on pastures). The amount of biosolids applied to agricultural land should
conform to agronomic rates designed to 1) provide the amount of nitrogen needed by
the crop, 2) minimize the amount of nitrogen leached to the groundwater, and 3)
minimizeintroduction of pollutants (heavy metals, synthetic organic compounds, etc.)
into soil.

2. Application on Non-Agricultural Land

Non-agricultural land application in 1989 included forest land (32.3 thousand dry
metric tons, or 0.6%), public contact sites (166.1 thousand tons or 3.1%) such as
parks, golf courses, etc., and reclamation sites (65.8 thousand tons or 1.2%).
Disturbed land resulting from both surface and underground mining can be
swce&Uy restoredby proper application of biosolids. Approximately 1.48 million
hectares were disturbed in the USA between 1930 and 1971 and only 40% of this has
ever been reclaimed. Disturbed land reclamation in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky,
Illinois, West Virginia, Missouri, Alabama and Florida proved to be an excellent
oppcntun@for beneficial use of biosolids. Liquid, dewatered and dried biosolids can
be applied at si@icantly larger amounts on non-agricultural and disturbed land (up
to 180metric tonsper hectare) on a one-time basis. Instead of a nationwide nitrogen
standard, application rates are established by permits (usually state-issued) on a case-
by-case basis.

3. Land Application--Sale o r Give-Away

Approximately 12% ofbiosolids generated in the U.S.A. were sold or given away for
use on home gardens, landscaping and similar applications (1989). Presently (1 9 9 3 ,
biosolids in this category are either composted (500 thousand dry metric tons per
year), heat dried and pelletized (350 thousand dry metric tons per year) or alkaline
stabilized. Compost and pellets, in particular, are easy to transport and store for
considerable periods of time. They are distributed, marketed and used as a bulk
ferilizer in agriculture, on lawns, golf courses,ornamentals and home gardens. These
biosolids products may also be distributed in various size bags.
Significant increase in the heat dried and pelletized biosolids production
occurred in the late 1980's and early 1990's when a number of municipalities
32 Girovich

renovated (Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Houston, Texas) or started (Boston,

Massachusetts; New York, New York; Tampa and Largo, Florida; Cobb and Clayton
Counties, Georgia; Baltimore and Hagerstown, Maryland, etc.) new heat drying and
pelletizing facilities. Biosolids pellets produced by these facilities are marketed as a
bulk organic fertilizer, fertilizer amendment or as a bagged retail product nationwide.
Production of heat dried biosolids pellets has gained in popularity and is
projected to increase substantially in the late 1990's to approximately 6% to 7% of
total U.S. biosolids generation.
Production of compost and alkaline stabilized biosolids in the USA has also
increased substantially in the 1990's.

4. Biosolids as a Larid'll Cover Material

Another beneficial application of biosolids is as an alternative daily, maintenance and

final cover material (ACM) for landfills. A municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill
typically uses approximately a six-inch compacted layer to cover the disposed MSW
daily and as maintenance and final cover. The 503 Regulations do not establish
standards for biosolids used as a landfill cover in municipal solid waste landfills
Biosolids used as a cover in MSWLF must be suitable for that purpose (40 CFR
Part 258). Requirements such as dryness (e.g., passing a paint filter test), granularity,
spreadability, compactibility, peimeability, toxicity, odor, pathogen and vector
attraction control, ability to support vegetation (if used as a final cover) must be
complied with for this application. Biosolids chemically stabilized by alkaline
materials such as lime, cement kiln dust, fly ash, etc. and usually mixed with earthen
materials are used for landfill cover.
Biosolids used as a landfill cover provide the following benefits:

- reduction of vectors and odors

. control of blowing litter
reduction of the chance and spread offires
reduction of the potential for surface and groundwater pollution
* enhancement of aesthetics
- cost savings

Most state regulations do not require that soil be used as daily cover material at
MSW landfills. Regulations generally require that the daily cover should use
"compacted layer of at least six (6) inches of suitable material" (e.g., Title 35, Subtitle
G, Part 807, Illinois Pollution Control Board Regulations).
Biosolids are also used as a final cover material usually mixed with top soil. In
order to establish a vegetative cover on a closed landfill, noimally about 0.3 to 0.9
meters (one to three feet) of biosolids and top soil mixture (1 :1) is applied.
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 33

5. Disposal 011Dedicated Sites

Approximately 260 thousand dry metric tons per year were applied to these sites in the
U.S.A.(1 989). Th~smethod is defined as a disposal of biosolids (which may not meet
standards for land application) with minimal attempt to use them beneficially at sites
specifically set aside for this purpose. Dedicated sites may be owned, operated and
managed either by a POTW or a private operator. Dedicated sites may be
unproductive, disturbed, barren by mining or similar activities with no or minimal
organic content, erodible and acidic. Such sites range fi-om a few to 10,000 acres and
may include a vegetative cover crop. Measures should be taken on these sites to
prevent runofi or leaching of the pollutants to waters.

6 . Biosolids as an Eiiergv Sozirre

Excacting energy from biosolids can also be considered as a beneficial use. Energy
can be rccovered fiom biosolids in the foim of steadelectricity using biosolids-to-
energy processes such as incineration with energy recoveiy, gasification, pyrolysis,
and conversion into fuel.

7 . Inciiieration Ash Utilizatiori

About 470 thousand tons per year of biosolids incinerator ash (bioash) is produced
fiom 170 municipal biosolids incineration facilities in the USA. Bioash can be used
as a supplement to other beneficial uses of biosolids or as a raw material in production
of building and road cover products. For example, in Osaka, Japan, bioash is used as
the only raw material in manufacture of decorative paving bricks.

8. Biosolids in Biological Renrediation

Microorganisms in biosolids can be beneficially used in several ways:

Biosolids disposal in MSW landfills under appropriate conditions enhances
decomposition of municipal solid waste and increases production of methane.
. Biosolids mixing with hydrocarbon-contamina~ed soils aids in establishing an
appropriate microbial population to destroy hydrocarbon pollutants and to
remediate sites.
. Biosolids addition to the soil structure to establish vegetation can improve the
success of reclamation of disturbed and contaminated sites.
34 Girovich

9. Nan-Beneflcial Uses

Non-beneficial uses of biosolids in the USA (1 989) include biosolids disposal into
monotills (0.15 millionmetric ton of less than 3.0%), incineration (0.86 million metric
tonsor 16.1%),codisposal in the MSW landfills (1.82 million metric tons or 33.9%)
and surface clsposd (0.55 millionmetxic tonsor 10.3%)[13. The disposal of biosolids
in MSW landfills is regulated under 40 CFR Part 258. In order to be co-disposed with
MSW, biosolids must: (1) be nonhazardous and (2) pass the Paint Filter Liquid Test.
If biosolids (sludges) are determined to be hazardous as defined by the Toxicity
Characteristic Leachate Procedure (TCLP), they must be disposed of in compliance
with the hazardous waste regulations (40 CFR Part 261-268). Also, if biosolids
contain more than 50 ppm of PCBs, they must be disposed of in compliance with
toxic waste regulations (40 CFR Part 761). Ocean dumping was banned by an Act of
Congress after 1991.
The selection of a technically and economically optimal method of converting
wastewater solids into a beneficial use product is a complex process involving
evaluation of potential markets, economics, technical and environmental protection
issues, public response, regulatory and site specific factors.
Figure 1-1 summarizes biosolids generation, treatment and beneficial use

B. Requirementsfor Beneficial Use

Prior to beneficial use, municipal solids should be treated to satisfy the following
general requirements relating to human health and environmentalprotection:

1. Pathoven duction: elimination or reduction to an acceptable level of potential

diseasecausingorganisms in biosolids (bacteria, viruses, protozoa, helminths).
2. Vector attraction reduction: elimination or reduction to an acceptable level of
attraction to vectors (e.g., rats, insects,flies).
3. Pollutant h t s : pollutants should not exceed lirmts established by federal, state
and local regulations. These regulations apply to the trace metals content of
biosolids, as well as emissions f?om processing facilities.
4. Auulication rates and other specific reauirements (such as monitoring,
remrdkeeping, public access, etc.) for biosolids used on agricultural and
nonagricultural land, sold to the general public, and used as a landfill cover
material must also be met.

1. Pathogen Reduction

Biosolids which are beneficially used should satisfy pathogen reduction requirements.
Current US. EPA Regulations (Subpart D of 40 CFR Part 503) establish two classes


3 7% T.S.

Chemically Stabilized
Heat Dried Biosolids
Air Dried Biosolids
Thermally or Chemically


1. Land Application
Digested Biosolids
Dried & Pelletized

Treated Liquid Biosolids

Irradiated Biosolids

0.5 2.0% T.S.

2. l L a d m b m



2,500 3,500 L' 15,000 20,000 L'


m e r p v Rccov~y:

Conversion to Feel

Building 8t Road
Material Component


10,000 L'
0.2 - 1.5% T.S

Stabilized Biosolids
. .


MSW Co-Landfdlin
Incineration without
Energy Recovery

* Per million liters of
wastewater treated
36 Girovich

of pathogen reduction: Class A and Class B. Class A biosolids are essentially

pathogen h e ; Class B biosolids have reduced levels of pathogens, and are subject to
use restrictions to prevent immediate and direct public contact [I].
Biosolids that are sold or given away in bags or containers for land application,
applied in bulk to a lawn or home garden must be Class A product.

a. Class A Pathogen Reduction Requirements

The implicit objective of all Class A requirements is to reduce pathogen densities to

below detectable limits which are:

Salriioriella sp: Less than 3 MPN per 4 grams of total solids (’I’S), diy
weight basis
Enteric viruses: Less than 1 PFU per 4 grams of TS, diy weight basis
- Viable helminth ova: Less than 1 per 4 grams of TS, dry weight basis

The above referenced requirements define microbiological “Cleanliness” of Class

A biosolids. Six alternatives are established for Class A. Any of these alternatives
maybe met for biosolids to be Class A with respect to pathogens. These alternative
requirements are described in detail in Chapter 2.

b. Class B Pathogen Reduction Reouirements

Class B requirements can be met by any of the t h e e (3) altematives. The implicit
objective of all three altematives is to ensure that pathogenic bacteria and enteric
vlluses are adequately reduced in density (as demonstrated by fecal coliforni density)
in Class B biosolids to less than 2 MPN or CFU per gram of total solids on diy weight
basis. Viable helminth ova are not necessarily reduced in Class B biosolids.
Additionally, site restrictions are applied which restrict crop harvesting, animal
grazing and public access for a ceitain period of time until environmental factors have
further reduced pathogens. See Chapter 2 for a detailed discussion.
Class B requirements apply to bulk biosolids that are applied to agricultural land,
a forest, a public contact site, a reclamation site or a suiface disposal site, unless, in
the latter case, biosolids are covered at the end of each operating day.

c. Domestic Sentage Pathogen Reduction [503.32(c)l

Class A or Class B biosolids requirements apply to domestic septage used on all types
of land. No pathogen-related requirements apply to domestic septage placed on a
suiface disposal site.
Pathogen reduction in domestic septage applied to agricultural land, a forest or
a reclamation site can be met by means of one of two options:
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 37

- all class B site restrictionsunder 503.32(b)(S) must be met, or

- the pH of the septage must be raised to no less than 12 by alkali addition and
maintained at this level for 30 minutes without adding more alkali,and the site
restrictions on crop harvesting must be met.

2. VectorAttraction Reduction

A significant route for pathogen transport is vector transmission. Vectors are living
organisms capable of transmitting a pathogen from one organism to another
mechanically (simply transportingthe pathogen), or biologically (by having a role in
the paghogen's life cycle).
Insects,birds, flies, rodents are the most likely vectors. Current U.S. EPA
Regulationsestablish 12 options for vector attraction reduction. Compliance With the
vector attraction reduction requirements must be demonstrated separately from
compliancewith the pathogen reduction requirements.
Vector attraction reduction options are discussed in Chapter 2.

3. Pollutant Limits Metal Concentrations)

Current regulations establish numerid limits (ceiling concentrations) for trace metals
that must be met in order to land apply biosolids. If these limits are not met, biosolids
must be managed under the surface disposal category.
Ifthe biosolids @ly meets the ceiling limits, additional numerical limits (e.g.,
cumulative or annual loading ratas) are also provided for the metals. These numerical
limits are discussed in detail in Chapter 2.
Biosolids thatmeet "exceptional quality" limits with respect to the trace metals,
in addition to Class A pathogen and vector attraction reduction requirements, are
referred to as "Exceptional Quality" (EQ) biosolids. The EQ biosolids have fewer
recordkeeping and monitoring requirements, which is particularly beneficial for
distribution and management programs. Biosolids meeting these pollutant
concentrations also do not have to meet annual or cumulative loading limits.
"Exceptional Quality" metal concentrations are shown in Table 1-9 (Table 3 of
The requirements for use of biosolids on non-agricultural lands are the same as
thosefor use on agriculturallands. The U.S. EPA requires that biosolids be applied
to forest land or a public contact site at a rate that is equal to, or less than, an
agronomic rate (i.e., a rate that protects the groundwater and minimizes the amount
of nitrogen thatpasses below the root zone of the crop or vegetation grown on the site
by matching the amount of nitrogen taka up the the crop). This management practice
also applies to a reclamation site, unless otherwise specified by the permitting
authority. In this case,the permitting authority may allow larger amounts of biosolids
38 Girovich

to be applied in order to provide nutrients and organic matter to revegetate disturbed

Ifthe biwlids are sold or given away in a bag or other container (less than one
metric ton) and the metal concentrationsexceed the amount in Table 3 of 5503.13, a
label must be attached to ensure that the annual pollutant loading limits (Table 4 of
5503.13) are not exceeded when the product is used.

Pollutant' Pollutant Concentration2

Arsenic 41
Cadmium 39

I chromium I 1,200 1
I copper I 1,500 I
Lead 300
Mercury 17
Nickel 420
Selenium 36
zinc 2,800

Both bulk and bagged products must be treated by a Class A pathogen reduction
process and one of the vector attraction reduction options to be applied in bulk to a
lawn or home garden or sold or given away in a bag or other container.
Detailed discussion of the technical basis and requirements of the 503
Regulations is provided in Chapter 2.

C. Treatment Processes: An Overview

Municipal solids are processed to achieve one or more of the following goals:
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 39

- volume (weight) reduction

* pathogen and vector attraction reduction
removal of pollutants and odors
-- energy generation or recovery
production of beneficial use products

1. Volume Reduction

Volume (weight) reduction is achieved by various types of mechanical water-solids

separation techniques (dewatering), drying and incineration.
Figure 1-2 illustrates volume (weight) reduction achieved by some commonly
employed processes. Reduction of volume (weight) by water-solids separation
(dewatering) provides considerable economic advantage by reducing costs of storage
and transportation. A sigdcant number of treatment processes use dewatered
biosolidsonly. High dryness dewatering is importantfor heat drymg and incineration
because it reduces dramatically the amount of energy required.

1 OO?!

Bulking or Alkaline Additives

80% OrganicMatter




Liq.Bimlids Dew. Bimlids Compost Ahlinc Stab. Drying Inckatim


40 GIrovfch

2. Pathogen and VectorAttraction Reduction

As described previousl in thisChapter, a treatment is required to eliminate or reduce

to acceptable levels the pathogenic organisms in biosolids and the vector attraction
properties prior to beneficial use or disposal. These goals can be achieved by
physical, chemical and biological means as Table 1- 10 illustrates.

3, Control of Odors and Pollutants

Reducing or eliminating pollutants from biosolids, air emission and odor control
represent one of the most diacult tasks in biosolids treatment.
Dilution (addition of certain materials such as lime) reduces pollutant
concentation in biosolids. Special lreatments are used to reduce amount of pollutants
in liquid, solid and gaseous discharges. Reduction of odors is achieved by various
means, such as chemical treatment (addition of oxidizing agents such as potassium
permanganate, lime, etc.) scrubbing, absorption, adsorption, masking, and
incineration.Detailed discussion on specific air emission and odor control is provided
in other chapters.

4. Environmental Impact

Bimlids treatment impacts upon environmental, safety, and public health conditions
hcludmg (butnot limitedto) air pollution, odors,liquid sidestreams,noise, siting, and
public acceptance. Certain treatment processes generate more gaseous, liquid,
particulate matter and other emissions than others (e.g., incineration) and, therefore,
have a greater potential social, environmental and health impact. Processes with
greater impact usually require higher capital (and often higher operating) costs and
may experience difficulty in achieving public and regulatory support and approval.
It is impossible to quant@ social, environmental and public health impact of
differentprocesses,but Table 1- 10 attempts to provide a qualitative evaluation of such
potential impacts.

5 . Economic Impact

The bimlids treatment and beneficial use market in the USA is estimated to be in the
$1.5 to 2.0 billion range annually (1995). About 9.0 million dry metric tons are to be
treated,berdicially used or disposed. Costs of treating and beneficial use of biosolids
varies widely h m as low as $90 for land application of stabilized biosolids to as high
as $400 per dry ton for heat drymg, including operational costs and cost of capital
(Fig. 1-3). Potential revenue sources are: 1) sale of final products, and 2) sale of
energy. Sale of bimlids derived products such as pellets and compost generally have
higher revenue potential than other end products. Sales of digester gas, production of
Treatment Volume Pathogen Potential for Reduction of F i Revenue
Reduction Reduction Energy Pollutants Product Potential


Dewatering signifcant No
I I Dewatered Medium to
I1 Medium No

No Biosolids High


Air Drying
C1assB I No
LOW VeryLOW very LOW Medium

Digestion I No
Medium Medium No LOW

Digestion I No
Class B
I Significant’
I No
I Liquid,



Medium Medium

Mesophilic Small

1 1 1 I
LOW Medium

Heat Treatment No ClassA Medium No Liquid, !$urnto Medium No LOW

of Liquid Class A to High
TABLE 1-10 (CONT.)
I ~~

I 1 Final
cost Potential

Pasteurization No Class A No
1 I Dewatered,
I Low Medium No I Low

No ClassA

Linie/Alkaline Small Class B No Yes’ Alkaline Low Medium Low Medium

Increase Stabilized
~ ~~

Irradiation No Class A No No Dewatered No Data No Data No No Data

I Biosolids,
Class A I
Heat Drying for Significant Class A Significant No Dried High Medium No Low to
Autogenous Biosolids. to High Medium
Incineration or Fuel
(40-80% TS)

Heat Drying &

(90% TS)
High Class A Significant


I 2;”. I
Fertilizer High Medium
to High
I Medium

Incineration Highest NIA High NIA

I High to
Very High
High No
I Medium

I Wet Air
No Class A Medium
I Possible
I Liquid Medium
to High
I Medium
TABLE 1-10 (CON".)
1 Treatment Volume Redudion of Capital
Process Reduction Reduction Energy Pollutants Product

Multi-effea Possible Very High


(Biosolids to
Oil) I Low
Nf A

I High

Melting VeryHigh
I Medium NIA Building
Materials I High

1. Produclioii of niethaiie gas.

2. Low to high decrease in pollutant concentralion (on dry basis) in thejnal produci due to addition ofprocessing material.

N/A - Not Applicable

44 Girovich


steam and electricity are potential sources of revenue fiom anaerobic digestion and
incineration. Certain processes provide potential for energy recovery and resultant
reduction in energy cost (e.g., heat treatment of liquid biosolids, heat drymg,
incineration,multi-effect evaporation).
Selecting an optimum treatment process for biosolids is a complicatedprocess
which should take into account technical, economic and site specific issues. Detailed
discussion on econOmics of various treatment and beneficial use methods is provided
in other chapters.
Biosolids Characterization, Treatment and Use 45


1. U.S. EPA, Subpait D, 40 CFR Part 503. "Standards for the Use or Disposal of
Sewage Sludge", Federal Regisfer, Vol. 58, No. 32, February 19, 1993.
2. J.E. Hall, F. Dalimer, Eur*opeatiSewage Sludge Sutvey, April 1994.
3. StandardMethds for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. 17th Edition,
Washington, D.C. Anierican Public Health Associafioti. 1980
4. M.J. Girovich, Simultaneous Sludge Diying and Pelletizing, Water Engineering
atidManagenienf, March 1990.
5. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc. Wastewater Engineering. McGraw-Hill Publishbig Co.
6. R.L. Donahue, R.W. Miller & J.C. Shickluna. Soils: An Introduction to Soils
and Plant Growth, Prenfice Hall, Itic. 1977.
7. Municipal Sewage Sludge Management, Vol. 4, Water Qiialip Mariagenietit
Library, Teclinortric Pirbliskitig Co. 1 992.
8. Beneficial Use of Waste Solids, hlat~iialof Pvacfice FD-15. WPCF. 1988.
9. S.E. Manahan. Environmental Chemistiy. 5 t h Edition. Lewis Pub/islier*s,]tic.
10. Design of Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants, Volume 11, Chapters 13-20,
WEF Manual of Practice No. 8, ASCE Manual and Report on Engineering
Practice No. 76. Book Press, Inc., Veimont. 1991.
11. C . Lue-Hing, D.R. Z e n , & R. Kuchenrither, Municipal Sewage Sludge
Management: Processing, Utilization and Disposal, Vol 4, Wafer Quality
Matiagenietit Libraty, Tecktioniic Publishing Co. 1992.
12. Wastewater Biology: The Microlife. Water Polliifion Control Federation, 1990.
13. U.S. EPA, Fate of Priority Pollutants in POTWs. EPA 44011-82-303,
Washington, DC. 1982.
14. U.S. EPA National Sewage Sludge Suwey, Washington, DC, 1988.
15. U.S. EPA, Control of Pathogens and Vector Attraction in Sewage Sludge:
Environmental Regulations and Technology, EPA 625/R-92/0 13, December
16. R.T. Haug, The Practical I-Iandbook of Compost Engineering: Principles and
Practice, Lewis Publisliers, 1993.
17. J.Y. Huang, G.E. Wilson & T.W. Schroepher. Evaluation of Sludge Odor
Control Alternatives, Journal of Etivirotittieri~alEtigineetitig, Div. ASCE 6,
18. Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances in Workroom Air, Nafional
Sa&y News, 1976.
19. C. Wilber & C. Munay, Odor Source Evaluation, BioCycle, Vol. 31, No. 3,
March 1990.
20. Odor Control for Wastewater Facilities, illanual of Practice No. 22,
Washington, DC, WPCF, 1979.
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Fed era1 Reg u 1atory Requirements
Jane B. Forste
Wheelabrator Clean Wafer Systems Inc.
Annapolis, Maryland


A. Introduction

The Clean Water Act (CWA), enacted in 1972, was adopted to "restore and maintain
the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's water". To that end, the
Act prohibits discharging pollutants into navigable waters except in compliance with
the statute. The CWA led to the establishment of the National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System (NPDES), a pennitting system which establishes specific
discharge limits for each pcnnitted wastewater treatment facility, including industrial,
commercial and public sourccs of wastewatcr.
In addition to regulating those sources discharging emucnt dircctly into the
Nation's waters, the CWA rcquircs the U.S. EPA to promulgate nationally applicable
pretreahncnt standxds to reshict dischxge of pollutants into publicly owned treatment
works (POTWs). These indirect industrial dischargers, as well as direct dischargcrs,
are subject to generally similar standards regarding levels of treatment. In addition,
POTWs are required to implement local limits applicable to the specific industrial
dischargers within their system to meet local requirements. Thus, direct dischaip-s
must comply with NPDES permit emuent limitations and indirect dischargers must
comply with pretreatment standards. Prctreatment standards must also be set for
pollutants which cannot be treated readily by POTWs or which would inteifere with
POTW opcrations [l].

48 Forste

The pretreatment program implemented by EPA through these limits is the

primary means for ensuring that the wastewater solids resulting from treatment at
POTWs mean applicable quality standards for ultimate use or disposal.
The wastewater from industry, domestic sources from private residences and
runoff from various other sources, must all be treated at POTWs before they can be
discharged to a receiving water. This treatment results in an emuent to be discharged
and the solids known as biosolids. Because implementation of the CWA has rcsulted
in greater levels of treatment and pollutant removal from wastewater, the quantities of
solids resulting from treatment increased steadily during the 1970's. Appropriate
management of these increasing amounts of solids has become more critical as the
efforts to remove pollutants from wastewater have become more effective. In the
United States, the quantity of solids generated from municipal wastewater treatment
has almost doubled since the enactment of the Clean Water Act in 1972. EPA
estimates that municipalities cuirently generate more than 6.5 million diy metric tons
of wastewater solids per year[2].
An important means for managing these municipal wastewater solids is through
beneficial use and recycling. The nutrients and other properties found in thcse othcr
solids make them usehl as a fertilizer and soil amendment. At the same time, and in
some situations, the use of these solids presents environmental conceins because of
potential for contamination by haiiifil pollutants. Because coiitaminatcd or
improperly managed wastewater solids can result in pollutants in those solids
reentering the environnicnt and possibly contaminating various media through a
variety of exposure routes, it is important to regulate the management of these
materials. Failure to do so could have adverse effects on surface and/or groundwater,
wetlands and possibly on human health as well. Concern for air quality requires
proper controls over incineration of municipal wastewater solids. The
interrelationship among these media means that a coordinated, comprchensive
approach which encourages the beneficial use of biosolids and avoids creating
environmental loopholes will assure that solving problems in one medium will not
create problems for another.
The 1972 CWA addressed biosolids use and disposal in only a veiy limited
circumstance: when use or disposal posed a threat to navigablc waters (i.e., the Act
prohibited the disposal if it would result in any pollutant entering navigablc waters
unless done in accordance with a peinut issued by EPA). In 1977, Congress amended
Section 405 to add Section 405(d) requiring EPA to develop regulations with
guidelines for the use and disposal of what was then called "sewage sludge." These
guidelines would identify uses, including disposal; spec@ factors to be accounted for
in determining the methods and practices for each identified use, and identify
concentrations of pollutants that would interfere with each use.
The 1979 Interim Final Rule (257 Rule) was issued under the authority of the
Solid Waste Disposal Act as amended by the Resource Conservation and Recovery
Act (RCRA) of 1976 as wcll as Scction 405(d) of CWA[3]. This 257 Rule was an
Regula tory Requirements 49

interim final regulation whosc ciiteiia partially fulfilled the requirement of Section 405
of the CWA to provide guidelines for disposal and utilization of biosolids. Because
of its issuance as a solid waste regulation, the 257 Rule resulted in a trend by many
states to regulate biosolids under their solid waste programs. In fact, the federal
rulemaking stated that facilities which did not meet the criteria of the 257 Rule would
be classified as "open dumps." As specified by Section 405(d) of the CWA, the
criteria contained in the 1979 regulation were designed "to avoid a reasonable
probability of advcrse effcts on health or the environment from disposal of sludge on
land." They were less comprchcnsive than later regulations and addressed only the
placement of biosolids on the land. All such practices were required to address
environmentally sensitive areas and diseases (pathogen control) in addition to
protecting food chain crops from the effects of cadmium and PCBs. The evaluation
of lead, pcsticides and pcrsistcnt organics was deferred to future rulemaking because
information available to the agency at the time was believed to be inadequate to
support specific standards.

The 257 Rule

The 257 Rule allowed for the beneficial utilization of biosolids as an agricultural soil
conditioner or fertilizer through land application by providing criteria that peimittcd
thcse activities in such a way as to prevent restricting the flow of the base flood,
reducing the teniporaiy watcr storage capacity of the floodplain, or resulting of
washout of the solid wastc so as to pose a hazard to human life, wildlifc or land or
water rcsourccs. Facilities and practices were also required not to: "cause or
contribute to the taking of any endangered or threatened species of plants, fish or
wildlife . . . or result in the dcstruction or adverse modification of the critical habitat
of endangered or threatencd species"; cause discharge of pollutants into waters of the
U.S. in violation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
under Section 402 of the CWA; contaminate underground drinking water sources
beyond the boundary of the solid waste site except as proved by a state solid waste
management plan. Many of the foregoing requirements were developed from the
perspective of a "facility" site (e.g., a landfill) which bears little or no relation to the
bencficial use practices employed for land application. This solid wastc-based
approach has resulted in somc misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the
requircments and the applicability of the 1979 regulation.
The 257 Rule is also far less comprehensive than the 503 Regulations,
particularly with respect to the pollutants regulated. Cadmium and PCBs were the
only pollutants regulated by the 257 Rule. Cadmium was selected as the metal being
of greatest concern because of its ability to accumulate in vegetative tissues of crops
to levels which could potentially cause adverse effects on human health. To that end,
the 1979 regulation was designed to protect land use for the production of food chain
crops by imposing both annual and cumulative limits on the amounts of cadmium
which could be applied to soils. In addition, the regulation required that the pH of the
50 Forste

solid wastekoil mixture be adjusted to 6.5 or greater at the time of each application
of any biosolids containing concentrations of 2 m g k g cadmium or more.

Cadmium Limits
A phased-in annual cadmium application rate was developed to provide an
opportunityfor POTWs to impose pretreatment requirements and reduce the levels of
the metal in their influent and, therefore, in the solids generated by these facilities.
The maximum cumulative application of cadmium was based on two factors:
background soil pH and soil cation exchange capacity. Higher cumulative application
rates were allowed for sites with higher cation exchange capacities that also had
background soil pHs equal to or greater than 6.5. These higher cumulative application
rates were allowed for soils with background pH of less than 6.5 if: (1) only animal
feed crops were grown, ( 2 ) pH was adjusted to 6.5 or greater each time an application
occurred; (3) a facility operating plan was developed to demonstrate to whom the
animal feed would be distributed to preclude ingestion by humans; and (4)fbture
property owners were notified that high cadmium application rates had been used on
the site and that food chain crops should therefore not be grown. The net effect of
these requirements was to establish controls based on the best available scientific
estimates of cadmium bioavailability at the time. As will be discussed later in this
chapter, many of the assumptions and the data used to develop these limits were
unnecessarily conseivative and/or based on an incomplete understanding of the
mechanisms of cadmium uptake and accumulation in crops. Nevertheless, this Rule
(along with recommendations for cumulative loading limits developed by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture) provided the federal basis for land application programs
in the United States for considerably more than a decade after becoming effectivc
October 15, 1979.

PCB Limits
Under the 257 Rule, solid waste containing concentrations of PCBs equal to or greater
than 10 m g k g had to be incorporated into the soil when applied to land used for
producing animal feed, including pasture crops for animals raised for milk. Such
incorporation was not required if it was assured that the PCB content was less than 0.2
m g k g (actual weight) in animal feed or less than 1.5 mgkg (fat basis) in milk.

Pathogen and Vector Attraction Reduction

Pathogen reduction and vector attraction reduction requirements of the 1979
rulemakingwere also included in an appendix to the 503 Rule (with some additional
monitoring requirements imposed for the Processes to Further Reduce Pathogens
(PFRP) options). The processes to reduce pathogens in the 257 Rule were
technology-based with no requirements for microbiological monitoring, as have been
imposed in the 503 Regulations discussed later in this chapter.
Regulatory Requirements 51

In addition to cadmium, PCBs, pathogen and vector requirements, the 257 Rule
contained provisions based on requirements for a solid waste facility, i.e. prohibiting
open burning, generation of explosive gases, fires, bird hazards and access.
Even as it was published, EPA and the scientific community identified gaps and
limitations in the 257 Rule and began efforts to develop a more comprehensive risk-
based rule encompassingmore of the pollutants of concern than those contained in the
257 Rule, which remained an "interim final" rather than "final" rulemaking.
During the next decade, various study groups and task groups within EPA were
formed to develop a final rule as mandated under the CWA. It was not until 1989,
however, that such a rule was proposed to meet the mandate of Section 405(d) of the
CWA. Changes in the Act enacted in 1987 for the first time set foi-th a comprehensive
program for reducing the potential environmental risks and maximizing the beneficial
use ofbiosolids. At that time, the Act established a time table for the development of
use and disposal guidelines. Under amcnded Section 405(d), EPA was charged to first
identify, based on available infoimation, toxic pollutants which may be present in
[biosolids] in concentrations which may affect public health and the environment.
Then, for each identified use or disposal method, EPA was required to promulgate
regulations that specify acceptable management practices and numerical limitations
for biosolids that contain these pollutants. These regulations must be "adequate to
protect human health and the environment from any reasonably anticipated adverse
affect of each pollutant" (Section 405(d)(2)@)). The statute also required EPA to
promulgate regulations in two stages and periodically review these regulations for the
purpose of identifLing additional pollutants for regulation.
Since Congress provided little guidance for the Agency in carrying out the broad
mandate to protect public health and the environment, EPA needed to address a
number of issues including: scope of the regulation, what pollutants should be
covered, what pathways of exposure should be evaluated, what individuals or groups
of individuals, plants or animals were most likely to'be affected, as well as what type
of modeling and risk assessment would be addressed in the final Rule. The Agency
also needed to determine at what concentrations a pollutant can adversely affect human
health and the environment, and what constitutes an adverse effect. The question of
an acceptable level of risk had to be addressed in meeting the "adequate protection"
mandate of the Act, taking into account background pollutant levels and the
uncertainties inherent in all risk analyses. The Agency conducted an extensive
infoimation gathering and analytical program beginning in 1984 to support the
development of the final regulation. M e r the 1987 amendments to the CWA were
adopted, the Agency's efforts increased and resulted in the development of important
documentation which formed the basis for the 503 Regulations.
52 Forste

B. Basis for the 503 Regulations

With the promulgation of the 503 Regulations on February 19, 1993, EPA met its
longstanding obligation under the CWA to establish standards for the use and disposal
of "sewage sludge." This undertaking represented an unprecedented effort on the part
of the Agency to assess the potential for pollutants in wastewater solids to affect public
health and the environment through various routes of exposure. This enormously
complex effort required the Agency to address issues that affect many other EPA
regulatory programs. For example, the risk evaluated in the 503 Regulations for
biosolids applied to land required EPA to evaluate human exposure through
inhalation, direct ingestion of soil fertilized with biosolids and through consumption
of crops grown on such soil, as well as many others. The agency assesscd potential
risk of contamination of drinking water or surface water sources when biosolids are
managed on the land, and evaluated potential direct effects on crops, cattle, aquatic
species and wildlife. In addition, EPA evaluated the effect of emissions from
biosolids incinerators on human health. Thus, the development of the 503 Regulations
had an impact on Agency activities under the Clean Air Act (CAA),the Resourcc
Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), thc Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),
and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act
(CERCLA), as well as the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The coordination of
this rulemaking with standards of other Agency programs presented a significant
challenge to the development of the 503 Regulations. The challenge was particularly
great with respect to non-human health effects, given the more limited infoimation
available in that area and the less well-developed methods available for cvaluating
such effects as comparcd to human health effects.
In promulgating the 503 Regulations, EPA expressed confidence that they do in
fact adequately protect public health and the environment from all reasonably
anticipated adverse affects, as required by CWA Section 405(d) based on the

EPA evaluated the regulations for aggregate national health impact and found,
based on very conservative assumptions that probably overstate exposure, that
there are virtually no effects when biosolids are disposed of on land or used as a
soil conditioner or fertilizer in compliance with the Rule. Even when biosolids
are incinerated, the potentially greater human population exposed to emissions
is still subject to extremely small risk.

Beneficial use of biosolids is not new in the United States. In the development
of the 503 Regulations, EPA and the Technical Peer Review scientists reviewed
available scientific and technical literature and found no evidence that the use of
biosolids is causing significant or widespread adverse effects.
Regulatory Requirements 53

The promulgation of the 503 Regulations represents the Agency's first step
(Round I> of this rulemalung. The CWA statutory requirements mandate that the
Agency develop regulations in two steps and revise such regulations periodically
if additional information suggests such a need.

EPA has expressed the view that the Regulations as promulgated in 1993 are
adequately protective because most of the effects that the Regulations are designed to
prevent are chronic, not acute. Even in the unlikely event that new information would
dictate reconsideration of some of the determinations of the SO3 Regulations, no
adverse short-term human health consequences would be experienced since the
standards already protect against chronic effects and thus are well below acute effect
levels. The Agency is also committed to investigate many of the assumptions used in
deteimining the regulatory levels contained in the SO3 to insure consistency with broad
protection of public health and the environment.
Under Section 40S(d) of the CWA, EPA identified, based on available
information, pollutants which may be present in biosolids in concentrations which
might affect public health andor the environment. Then, for each identified use or
disposal method, EPA specified acceptable numerical limitations and management
practices for biosolids that contain these pollutants. In the absence of specific
gudance fiom Congress in carrying out the broad mandate to protect public health and
the environment from reasonably anticipated adverse affects of each pollutant, the
Agency was required to address and clarify a number of significant issues.

Remlatorv Issues
To determine standards that would adequate protect public health and thc
environment, EPA had to detemiine the following:

Scope of the Remulation

Since different types of biosolids are generated and are used or disposed in
different ways, the question of which types to regulate and which use/disposal
methods to regulate needed to be clearly defined.
Pollutants Covered
The basis for the Agency's selection of pollutants for regulation had to be defined.
Exposure Pathways
Air, water and soil as media of transport of pollutants had to evaluated in
establishing risk-based limits for pollutants.
Tarpet Organisms
Individuals or groups of individuals, plants or animals which are most likely to
be affected by the pollutants in biosolids had to be identified.
The Agency had to simulate the movement of the pollutants in biosolids into and
through various environmental media to the target organisms.
54 Forste

Tvpes of Risks
Potential human health and environmental effects from the use or disposal of
biosolids (e.g., eating foods grown on soil to which biosolids have been applied)
had to be identified.
Effect Levels
The "response"to the presence of a pollutant by plant, animal and human systems
had to be evaluated to determine at what point variation constitutes an adverse
Acceptable Level of Risk
The Agency had to decide what level of risk adequately protects human health
and the environment; this was unclear in the congressional mandate and varies
within other EPA programs.
Backmound Pollutant Levels
The Agcncy had to evaluatc the impact of sources of pollutants other than
biosolids (e.g., lead from gasoline).
The Agcncy had to measure and account for the unavoidable uncertainties in its
analyses by using appropriately conservative assumptions and margins of safety.
Types of Effects Evaluated
EPA had to determine whether to evaluate health and environment effects on the
most exposed target organisms and/or based on the incidence of adverse effects
on the total population associated with use or disposal.
Pollutant Limits
The Agency had to determine whether to establish a single pollutant limit for all

. use or disposal practices or separate pollutant limits for each of these.

Form of the Pollutant Limits
Pollutant limits could be expressed as limitations on concentrations in biosolids,
on pollutant loading rates, pollutant emission rates, or various other limitations.
0 Regulatorv Responsibility
The Agency had to determine who would be responsible for meeting the
requirements in the Rule (e.g., end user, treatment works, service contractor).
A cost benefits analysis of the Rule had to be developed in order to determine its

The final 503 Regulations contained a number of important, fundamental

assumptions based on the Agency's interpretation of the requirements of Section
405(d) of the CWA and the various regulatory issues described above. These
assumptions include the following:
Regulatory Requirements 55

1. Control Quality

By cstablishing limits on biosolids quality, the 503 Regulations create incentives for
treatment works to generate less contaminated biosolids. Those facilities that do not
meet the quality conditionsunder the 503 must improve the influent quality (e.g., more
rigorous pretreatment), provide better treatment of the solids (e.g., improved pathogen
reduction) or select another use or disposal method.

2. Reduce Waste and Use BeneJicially

EPA's 1984 Beneficial Use Policy and the 1991 Interagency Policy on Beneficial Use
strongly supports beneficial use practices for biosolids--the term the Agency notes is
used to distinguish solids which can be beneficially recycled[4][5]. The Agency
believes that the improved productivity of land using the soil conditioning properties
and nutrient content of biosolids has human health and environmental advantages
beyond those that are directly associated with applying this material to the land. The
Agcncy sees secondary or related bcnefits of using biosolids resulting from a reduction
in adverse human health effects of incineration, a decreased dependcnce on chemical
fertilizers and a reduction in he1 or energy costs that may be associated with
incineration. In finalizing the Rule, the Agency considered and placed emphasis on
approaches that supported its policy of beneficial use.

3. Mininiize Risks to Iiidividuals and the General Population

The Agency evaluated the effects of each pollutant on a highly exposed individual,
plant or animal (HEI) and on populations at higher risk. It also examined regulatory
options that would base the Rule on: aggregate incident analyses only (the effect on
the whole population); the ME1 analyses only; and a combination of these two
approaches. The final 503 Regulations use an HE1 analysis supported by aggregate
risk assessment on higher risk populations or special sub-populations (e.g., children)
to insure protection of public health and the environment.

4. Proniulgate Reasonable Standards

In establishing standards under 405d of the CWA, the Agency evaluated long-term
pollutant exposure and circumstances leading to: 1) increased toxicity and potency of
a pollutant in the environment, and 2) increased intensity of an adverse effect that the
pollutant might have on human health or the environment. While this approach is used
throughout the Rule, it does not include every conceivable combination of adverse
conditions; however, based on the conservative assumptions built into EPA's
modelling effort, the Agency expccts that few, if any, individuals will reccive greater
doses of a pollutant than the doses used to establish the standards. Therefore, EPA has
56 Forste

determined that the 503 Rule meets the statutory directive contained in 405d. EPA
concludes that adequate protection does not require the adoption of standards for
exposure conditions that are unlikely and from which effects are not significant or

5. Proniulgate an Implenientable Rule

The flexibility associated with site-specific analyses was weighed by the Agency
against the simplicity of national numerical limits and a self-implementing rule.
Regulations that allow exceptions for every conceivable contingency would be
cumbersome and difficult to implement. Therefore, the limited exceptions in 503 to
national pollutant limits are restricted to circumstances in which site specific
conditions may make a significant difference in the pollutant limits without
compromising public health and environmental protection. In such cases where site-
specific conditions are appropriate, recalculated numerical pollutant limits for that site
can be imposed using EPA approved models by providing supporting information and
recalculated numerical limits to the permitting authority for approval. The Agency
places primary responsibility on the treatment works for insuring that biosolids are
managed as required. Because the 503 Regulations are designed to be self-
implementing, they spell out the requirements which apply to persons using or
disposing of this material.

6. Provide f o r Future Expansion

Since the 503 Regulations are necessarily limited by the adequacy of idolmation
available at the time, they contain standards for pollutants and use or disposal practices
for which sufficient information exists. EPA may expand and refine these standards
in the future.
The National Sewage Sludge Survey (NSSS) was conducted by the agency to fill
some ofthe information gaps. Among other things, it gathered additional infotmation
on the pollutants in biosolids, as well as how they are used and disposed[6]. Those
pollutants and methods of use or disposal not covered by the February 19, 1993 Final
Rule will be evaluated for coverage under subsequent phases of503 rulemaking and
as adequate data are developed.
The 503 rulemaking was unique not only with respect to the complexity of the
task at hand, but the extensive review and input which was received by the Agency on
the technical standards. Experts from both inside and outside EPA reviewed the
scientific literature and provided additional data and scientific and technical input
which enabled the Agency to expand and refine the standards during the time
following the comment period and before promulgation of the final standard.
Reviewers included the EPA Science Advisoly Board, the Cooperative State Research
Service, the Regional Research Technical Committee (the W- 170 Committee),
Regulatory Requirements 57

representatives of academia and other scienticltechcal entities with specific

experience in the areas covered by the Rule. A complete listing of public comments
and documents used in developing the final Part 503 can be found in [7].
The phased-in approach for this rulemakmg specified under Section 405d of the
CWA provides for review of the Regulations at least every two years to identify
additionalpollutants and promulgating regulations for such pollutants. The EPA will
use data from the NSSS to identify additional pollutants in the second round of
The 503 Regulations establish standards for final use or disposal when biosolids
are applied to agricultural and non-agricultural land (including products sold or given
away), placed in or on surface disposal sites or incinerated. The standards do not
apply to processing of biosolids before their ultimate use or disposal. In addition, the
503 Regulations do not specify operating methods or requirements for biosolids
entering or leaving any particular treatment process. They also do not establish
standards for biosolids disposed with municipal solid waste in Municipal Solid Waste
Landfills (MSWLF) or used as a cover material at MSWLF sites. The joint authority
of Sections 4004 and 4010 of RCRA and Section 405d of the CWA contain the
requirements adopted by the Agency for MSWLFs that apply to biosolids placed in
such landfills. Disposal of biosolids in MSWLFs is regulated under 40 CFR Part
258 [8]. Treatment works which use an MSWLF to disposal of their biosolids must
insure that the material is non-hazardous and passes the Paint Filter Liquid Test. By
meeting these requirements, the treatment works will be in compliance with Section
405(e) of the CWA.
The standards also are not applicable to biosolids co-incinerated with large
amounts of solid wastes [9]. However, the standards established in the 503
Regulations do apply to biosolids incinerated with incidental amounts of solid waste
used as an au>cilimyhe1 (i.e., 30% or less solid waste by weight). Biosolids generated
by all publicly and privately owned treatment works treating domestic sewage and
municipal wastewater are subject to the provisions of the 503 Regulations. They do
not apply to domestic sewage that is treated along with industrial water by privately
owned industrial facilities. Since EPA does have the authority under Section 405d of
the CWA to regulate industrial sludges with a domestic sewage component, it plans
to consider regulating these materials in the future Part 503 rulemaking, In the
meantime, until the agency develops such regulations, those sludges (as well as non-
hazardous industrial sludges without a domestic sewage component) will be regulated
under 40 CFR Part 257.
The 503 Regulations do not establish disposal standards for wastewater solids
that are determined to be hazardous under procedures contained in Appendix I1 of 40
CFR Part 261. Such hazardous materials must be disposed of in compliance with the
Regulations in 40 CFR Parts 261-268, and compliance with these requirements will
constitute compliance for purposes of Section 405 of the CWA. Also, wastewater
solids containing 50 ppm or more of PCBs are excluded from the 503 Regulations and
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must be disposed of according to the requirements established in 40 CFR Part 76 1.

Therefore, since EPA has not established specitic standards for the disposal of PCB
contaminated wastewater solids, a disposer complying with 40 CFR Part 76 1 will be
in compliance with Section 405d of the CWA.
The Ocean dumping ban act of 1988 prohibits any person from dumping
wastewater solids into ocean waters after December 31, 1991. A phased-in
implementation under the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA)
resulted in the cessation of such disposal at the end of June 1992.

C. Data Gathering

As required by Section 405(d), EPA relied on available information to develop the

503 Regulations. The primary source of this information regarding the occurrence and
concentration ofpollutants in biosolids came from data on 40 pollutants from POTWs
in 40 cities (40 City Study). [ 101 This database was selected as the primary source of
information on pollutant concentrations because it provided the most comprehensive
and best documented nationwide database available at the time.

40 Citv Study
However, EPA recognized scveral deficiencies in using the "40 City Study" data. The
key deficiency was the fact that this study did not generally provide data on final
processed biosolids. In addition, POTWs selected for the 40 City Study were not
selected following statistical methods which would provide unbiased national
estimates of pollutant concentrations in biosolids.
EPA also recognized that biosolids quality had changed since 1978 due to the
initiation of many pretreatment programs, development of new industrial facilities
discharging to the POTWs, and changes in wastewater treatment processes. The
Agency therefore concluded that pollutant concentrations from the 40-city study did
not accurately reflect the current quality of biosolids. In addition, advancements in
analytical methodology since the 40-city study provide more accurate pollutant
analysis. Other data sources on biosolids quality also suffered from deficiencies which
made them inappropriate for establishing regulations.

National Sewage Sludge Survev (NSSS)

To develop more appropriate data to replace or at least supplement the data used to
develop Part 503, EPA conducted the National Sewage Sludge Survey to obtain a
current and reliable database. This information will also be used to develop a list of
pollutants fi-om which the Agency will select additional pollutants for further analysis
and potentially for regulation under Section 405(d) of the CWA.
The data collection effort for the NSSS began in August 1988 and was completed
in September 1989. EPA collected and analyzed biosolids samples at 180 POTWs
and analyzed them for more than 400 pollutants. Using detailed questionnaires, the
RegulatoryRequirements 59

survey also collected information on the use and disposal practices from 475 public
treatment plants with at least secondaxy treatment. The NSSS results provided EPA
with information necessary to establish numerical pollutant limits in the final Part 503
Regulations to encourage the beneficial use of biosolids and provide a greater degree
of public health and environmental protection than was contained in the February 6,
1989 proposal.
To establish numerical limits, data from the NSSS regarding pollutant
concentrations were required to estimate the level of risk which current quality and
current use or disposal practices pose to the environment. The survey information
enabled the Agency to fUrther evaluate its regulatory approach and "cap" pollutants at
the 99th percentile concentration in instances where the Agency believes that the
strictly risk based numerical limitations do not provide an adequate margin of safety
to protect public health and the environment.
EPA also used the results of the NSSS to attempt to assess potential shifts among
various use or disposal practices as a result of the final regulations, since effect of a
rule is important in determining how rapidly it should be implemented. For example,
a slight impact from a particular numerical limitation may make immediate
implementation of the regulations appropriate; however, if wide shifts in current
methods of use or disposal are anticipated from the numerical limits, POTWs may
need assistance in developing more stringent pretreatment limits or in adopting
alteinative use or disposal practices.
EPA will also study the analpcal results of NSSS to identify a preliminary list of
pollutants for second round rulemaking, based to some degree on pollutants that have
elevated concentrations in biosolids. Final decision on which pollutants to regulate in
the second round will depend on availabilityof data regarding a pollutant's toxicity and
environmental fate, effect and transport properties. EPA will follow a similar process
in identifying these pollutants as they did for the 1989 rulemaking.
Participants in the NSSS were selected from 11,407 POTWs in the U.S.,
including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. These facilities have been
identified in the EPA 1986 Needs Survey as having at least secondaiy wastewater
treatment (primary clarification followed by biological treatment and secondary
clarification). The effort consisted of both a questionnaire and an analytical survey.
The POTWs included in the two samples were selected according to stratified
probability design. All POTWs in the analytical survey were selected from among
those that had already been selected to receive the questionnaire.
The questionnairewas designed to allow results to be analyzed separately by flow
rate group and by biosolids use and disposal practice. Four hundred seventy-nine
POTWs provided idormation concerning service area, operating parameters, general
biosolids use and disposal practices, pretreatment programs, wastewater and biosolids
testing frequencies and financial information. The POTWs also provided use and
disposal practice specific information and indicated which practice(s) would be likely
alternatives to their current ones.
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A total of 208 POTWs fiom four flow rate categories were selected for sampling
and analysis. EPA contract personnel collected the samples which were analyzed for
a total of 412 analytes. These analytes include every organic, pesticide, dibenzohran,
dioxin and PCB for which EPA has gas chromatography and mass spectrometry
( G C M S ) standards. The remaining pollutants are inorganic. Pollutants were also
selected based on: 1) the CWA Section 307(a) priority pollutants, 2) toxic compounds
highhghted in the domestic sewage study, and 3) Resource Conservation and Recovery
Act (RCRA PL94-580) Appendix VIII pollutants.
Sampling preservation and analytical protocols were developed specifically for
the NSSS. Analytical methods 1624 and 1625 were adapted from methods to deal
with the biosolids matrix for volatile and semi-volatile organics respectively.
Pesticides and PCBs and dibenzohans and dioxins were analyzed using methods
16 18 and 1613, respectively. Metals and other inorganics and classicals were
analyzed by standard EPA methods. The analytical methods were either developed,
chosen or specifically adapted for the biosolids matrix to give the most reliable,
accurate and precise measurement of the 4 12 analytes undertaken.

Incinerator Field Studies

A series of field studies was initiated by EPA in 1987 to support the 503 incinerator
rulemaking effort. These on-site tests were designed to obtain information about: 1)
percentage of hexavalent chromium in the total chromium in the exit gas, 2)
percentage of nickel subsulfide in the total nickel in the exit gas, 3) total hydrocarbon
(THC) emissions data, and 4) organic compounds in the exit gas.
Information was collected at 10 biosolids incinerators, eight of which were
multiple hearth and one was a fluidized bed; these incinerators had various
combinations of air pollution control devises, including wet scrubbers and wet
electrostatic precipitators.
For the final Rule, EPA developed allowable pollutant concentrations for metals
in biosolids based on risk-specific concentrations. The risk-specific concentration for
chromium depends on the percentage of hexavalent chromium in the total chromium
in the exit gas. EPA determined, based on tests at several incinerators, that the
conversion to hexavalent chromium will vary with the type of biosolids incinerator and
air pollutant controls. Based on those results, EPA derived different risk-specific
concentration values based on four combinations of biosolids incinerators and air
pollution control technologies (see Table 10 of the final Part 503 Regulations).
The nickel speciation tests revealed that nickel subsulfide is not emitted from
biosolids incinerators above the detection level for the analytical methods used in the
tests. EPA therefore decided to be protective and base the standard risk-specific
concentration for nickel on the higher of the two detection limit values for nickel
subsulfide. The risk specific concentration for nickel in Table 9 of the final Rule is
based on the occurrence of ten percent nickel subsulfide in total nickel emitted from
a biosolids incinerator.
Regulatory Requirements 61

EPA used data from total hydrocarbon concentration in exit gas along with the
aggregate risk analysis as the basis for the THC operational standards in the final part
503 regulations. This standard is technology-based since it is based on perfoimance
data from biosolids incinerators. Information on total organic pollutants and THC in
the exit gas provided the basis for THC being used as a surrogate for measuring
organic compounds in the exit gas. Tests show that there is a significant correlation
between THC and organic compounds and THC is easier and less expensive to
monitor than are total organics. THC can also be measured on a continuous basis
which enhances operating and management practices, Knowing which organic
pollutants are in the exit gas (or potentially in the exit gas) allowed EPA to develop
an ambient risk-specific concentration for the organic compounds. This value was
then used to estimate the risk level for the technology-based THC limits which is an
exit gas concentration. Details on the biosolids incinerator field studies can be found
in the technical support document for incineration.

Domestic Septage Study

To characterize domestic septage, EPA initiated a 1981 sampling and analysis study
because data on organic pollutants and domestic septage were not available. As part
of h s study, nine samples of domestic septage were collected and analyzed for over
400 pollutants. Analytical results from the study were used to calculate the annual
application rate equation for domestic septage for the final rule (based on total
Kjeldahl nitrogen and ammonia concentrations), and to justify the domestic septage
annual application rate. Details on the domestic septage study are found in the
technical support documents for land application.

D. Risk Assessment Methodology

1. Intioducrion

In developing the 503 Regulations, the U.S. EPA had to set up and justify numerical
limits for certain pollutants. EPA developed the numerical limits using the exposure
assessment models as described in this Chapter, and in the final 503 Regulations also
established an operational standard for total hydrocarbons emitted by biosolids
incinerators. The models incorporated well established measures of human health or
environmental protection as the design endpoint. Thus EPA based its environmental
assessment on human health or environmental criteria already published or
promulgated by the Agency, on human health criteria developed by the Agency, or on
plant or animal toxicity values published in scientific literature.
In its exposure assessment, if the Agency had not published or promulgated
criteria for specific pollutants, EPA evaluated non-cancer human health risks from
pollutant exposure using reference doses. EPA evaluated cancer risk using cancer
potency factors listed in the Agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). In
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all cases, the Agency used cancer potency values corresponding to an incremental,
carcinogenic risk level of 1 x to evaluate the risk from pollutants found in
biosolids (a 1 x lo4cancer risk implies that one additional cancer case will occur in
a population of 10,000 exposed at that level for 70 years). The final limits for
pollutants ensure that the use and disposal of biosolids does not result in ambient
concentrationsof the regulated pollutants that exceed an incremental carcinogenic risk
level of 1 x
For biosolids disposed of in or on surface disposal sites (including monofills) or
incinerated, the treatment facility may submit modelling and data analysis for certain
physical parameters relating to the site. The permitting authority will review and
approve the facility’s site specific modelling and data analyses used to recalculate
numerical limits used in EPA’s approved exposure assessment methods. The
recalculated numerical luruts will therefore be based on EPA approved models and the
same health and environmental criteria as the national numerical limits and, therefore,
the recalculated limits will also adequately protect human health and the environment.
The 503 Regulations establish requirements for pathogenic organisms or
pathogenic indicator organisms such as fecal coliforms in biosolids applied to the land.
It also includes requirements for destroying or reducing the characteristics of biosolids
that might attract birds, insects, rats and other animals (so-called “vectors”). Based
on “vector”exposure to the pathogenic organisms potentially present in biosolids and
potential spread of disease from these disease vectors to humans, the Rule requires
measures for reducing the attraction of vectors to biosolids. These measures include
reduction or destruction of the odor-causing properties of biosolids that lure insects
and animals by a variety of means.
Management practices and general requirements to protect human health and
prevent environmental abuse supplement the numerical pollutant limits contained in
the 503. In addition, small quantities of biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other
container may require labelling with instructions on proper use of the product if such
a product does not meet the most stringent requirements of the 503 with respect to
pollutant concentrations.
Monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements are also contained in 503
at specified frequencies depending on the quantity of biosolids used or disposed by a
treatment facility. The pollutants for which a treatment facility must monitor their
biosolids depend on the use or disposal method employed, and recordkceping and
reporting requirements are also specific to each use or disposal method.
The 503 Regulations cover nearly 35,000 treatment facilities, including priniaiy
treatment POTWs, secondary and advanced POTWs, privately owned treatment
works, federally owned treatment works and domestic septage haulers. Based on the
NSSS, EPA estimates that the 503 will affect approximately 6,300 of the 12,750
secondary, advanced and primary POTWs that use one or more of the disposal
practices included in the 503. These 6,300 facilities generator or treat approximately
60% of the biosolids produced in the US. Of the remaining POTWs, EPA estimates
Regulatory Requirements 63

that 2,700 dispose of their biosolids (34% of the total generated) in MSWLFs that are
regulated under 40 CFR Part 258. The remaining 3,750 POTWs use other disposal
practices not covered in the 503 or the MSWLF rule. As noted above, in some cases
compliance with the requirements of the other practices also constitutes compliance
with 405(d) of the CWA.
EPA’s aggregate risk assessment estimated that the pre-503 use and disposal
practices contributed from less than one up to five cancer cases total for the entire US
population. The lifetime cancer risk to a highly exposed individual fi-om existing
practice ranged from 6 to 10-4for land application and surface disposal and from 6 x
lo4 to 7 x 10” for incineration. Other health effects associated with usc and disposal
prior to 503 wcre evaluated by the Agency as primarily relating to lead exposure. The
baseline risks for the 503 are extremely low as compared to aggregate risks identificd
by the Agency in other environmental rule making efforts. The aggregate risk
assessment estimates are discussed later in this chapter.
EPA’s regulatory impact analysis estimates that approximately 130 of the 6,300
aEected POTWs may produce biosolids which do not meet the numerical limits of the
503 Regulations (however, some POTWs may come into compliance by using site
specific data to calculate new numerical limits and imposing stricter pretreatment
requirements on industrial discharges).
T e c h c a l support documents, aggregate human health risk analyses, regulatoiy
impact analyses and the preamble to the 503 discuss the factors that EPA considered,
the data and comments that were evaluated, and the determinations that it made in
developing the Regulations. This information is containcd in 15 parts:

Part I contains generation, volume and constituents of biosolids and ways in

which communities commonly use or dispose of their biosolids, the bcnefits of
using biosolids and the risks associated with their disposal
Part I1 lists existing federal and state requirements for use and disposal and their
relationship to 503 standards.
Part I11 describes the Agency‘smethods of selecting pollutants and developing the
final Rule through a series of exposure assessment models.
Part IV briefly describes the February 6, 1989 proposed rule.
Part V describes the data collection and evaluation of the NSSS.
Parts VI and VII discuss alteinativc regulatory approaches and commcnts thc
Agency considered.
Part VIII discusses proposed exposure assessment methods and public comments
considered by the Agency in developing exposure assessment methodology.
Part IX describes criteria used to select pollutants for regulation in the final Part
503 Rule.
Part X describes the methods used to analyze the aggregate human health effects
on highly exposed individuals and the nation from existing practice.
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a Part XI describes, in several subparts, the requirements that apply to the use and
disposal of biosolids. Part XI also contains the requirements for septage use and
disposal, pathogen and vector attraction requirements and monitoring,
recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
0 Part XI1 discusses implementation of the Rule through federal and state permit
programs and the self-implementing nature of the 503 Regulation. A separate
rulemaking by the Agency promulgated state program management requirements
and changes in the NPDES permitting requirements. [ 101
Part XI11 describes benefits, costs and regulatory impact of the Rule along with
discussion of the data limitations and assumptions.
Part XIV provides information on obtaining copies of the 503 Rule, the technical
support documents, risk assessment and regulatoq impact analysis.
0 Part XV describes changes in 40 CFR Parts 257 and 403 (i.e., revisions to part
403 and removal from coverage in Part 257 of biosolids use and disposal
methods which x e now subject to the standards established in 40 CFR Pait 503.
Part XV lists the subjects in 40 CFR Parts 257,403 and 503.

2 . Selection oJPollutants for Regulation

In 1984 EPA began to assess which pollutants likely to be found in biosolids should
be examined closely as candidates for numerical limits. A list of approximately 200
pollutants in biosolids that if disposed of improperly could cause adverse human health
or environment al€ects was developed. The list was then revised by adding or deleting
pollutants using the potential risks to human health and the environment when a
particular pollutant was applied to the land, placed in a landfill or incinerated as the
test for inclusion or exclusion on the revised list. EPA also requested that the most
likely routes which a pollutant could travel to reach target organisms (human, plant or
wild or domestic animals) be identified. This process resulted in a recommendation
by the experts that the agency gather additional environmental information on
approximately 50 pollutants listed in Table 2-1.
In 1984 and 1985, EPA gathered data on the toxicity, persistence, transport and
environmental fate of the 50 pollutants being evaluated. The Agency also developed
preliminay information on the relative frequency of concentration of these pollutants
in biosolids by analyzing the product of 43-45 POTWs (depending on the pollutant)
in 40 cities. This 40-city study provided data on concentration of 40 pollutants (1 2
metals, 6 base neutral organic compounds, 6 volatile organic compounds, 9 pesticides,
and 7 PCBs).
Using this preliminay infoimation, EPA assessed the likelihood that each
pollutant would adversely affect human health or the environment. For this effort,
EPA used screening models and calculations to predict the concentration of a pollutant
that would occur in surface or groundwater, soil, air or food, then compare that
prdcted concentration with an Agency human health criterion, such as a drinking
Regulatory Requirements 65


Pollutants Landfill Incineration

AldridDieldrin X

1 Arsenic I x X X
Benzene X X

Benzo(a)anthracene X
Benzo(a)pyrene x X
Cadmium X X X
Carbon tetrachloride X
I Chlordane* X X
Chlorinated dibenzodioxins X
Chlorinated dibenzofurans X
Chloroform X
Chromium* X ~
Cobalt X X
Copper* X X X
Cyanide* X X
acid* I -x
Dimethylnitrosamine* X
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Nickel* X X X
Pentachlorophenol* X X
Phenathrene X X

Phenol' X
Selenium* X
Tetrachloroethylene* X
Toxaphene X X X
Trichloroethylene X X
Regulatory Requirements 67


Trichlorophenol X

Tricresyl phosphate X
Vinyl chloride X
Zinc* X X X

* Pollutant evaluated found not to interfere with one or more use/disposal option(s).
water standard, to determine whether the pollutant could be expected to have an
adverse effect on human heallh. For this initial screening, EPA assumed conditions
that would maximize the pollutant exposure of an individual animal or plant, as well
as the worst possible pollutant related effects.
Based on concentration, toxicity, persistence and other factors, EPA scored each
pollutant and ranked them for more rigorous analysis, excluding two categories of
pollutants for M e r evaluation. Excluded were those which, when compared to a
simple index, presented no risk to human health or the environment at the highest
concentration found in the 40-city study or other databases, or, secondly, lacked human
health criteria or sufficient data to be evaluated at the time. [ 1 11
Table 2-1 notes the pollutants EPA did not analyze hrther because of their
demonstrated lack of negative eflect on human health or the environment. These
pollutants are also included in the list of pollutants for which eligible POTWs, by
complyingwith the requirements in Part 503, may under 40 CFR Part 403, apply for
authorization to grant removal credits to their industrial dischargers, shown in Table
TheEPA also proposed to include septage from septic tanks in the definition of
"scwage sludge" and thus within the scope of the proposed requirements. EPA did not
propose separate standards for septage from septic tanks but rather regulated septage
under the various use or disposal practices contained in the proposed Rule.

3. Proposed Standards - 1989

The pollutant limits, management practices and other requirements were specific to
the use or disposal method employed. The use or disposal methods included in the
proposal were 1) application to agricultural or non-agricultural land, 2) distribution
and marketing (referred to in the final SO3 Regulations as sale or giveaway of
biosolids), 3) disposal in monofills, 4) disposal in on surface disposal sites, and 5)

a. Land Amhcation

The original proposed standards for spreading of liquid, dewatered, dried or

composted biosolids on or just below the surface of agricultural and non-agricultural
land contained difZaent numerical pollutant limits for agricultural and non-agricultural
lands. The limits proposed for agricultural land were based on an EPA modeled
assessment of potential risk to public health and the environment through 14 pathways
of exposure. Numerical limits, when applied to agricultural land, were expressed as
cumulative loading limits of 10 metals and annuals pollutant loadings of 12 organic
pollutants. A cumulative loading rate for each metal defined the limit of how much of
a given metal in biosolids could be added to the soil. This load could be applied all
at once or over a period of years from repeated applications. No fbrther application
would be allowed once the cumulative loading was reached. Also, the proposed
Regulations provided an annual limitation on the quantity of the 12 organic pollutants
that could be applied to land.
The proposed Regulations required owners and operators of treatmcnt works to
keep records on the amount of organic and inorganic pollutants applied to each land
application site in order to insure that cumulative and annual loading rates would not
be exceeded. In addition, before biosolids could be applied to the land by anyone
other than the treatment works, the treatment works would have to entcr into an
agreement with the distributor or applier to provide that they must comply with the
For non-agricultural land, EPA developed pollutant ceilings for the concentrations
in biosolids of these 22 organic and inorganic pollutants. These standards were based
on the assumption that pollutants in biosolids applied to non-agricultural land would
not reach individuals through the food chain. The ceiling concentration (above which
biosolids could not be land applied) were based on the 98th perccntilc values for
pollutant concentrations in biosolids based on data from a 198 1-1982 study.

b. Distribution and Marketing

Different requirements were originally proposed for biosolids to be distributed and

marketed (designated in the Final Rule as sold or given away) for use as a fcrtilizer
and soil conditioner. EPA proposed to limit the quantity of biosolids (or product
derived therefiom) of a given concentration that could be applied to land in one year.
The major difference between proposed land application requirements and proposed
distribution and marketing requirements was in the numerical limits for somc of thc
organic pollutants and some metals. For both instances, it was assumed that biosolids
would be used in the production of crops intended for human consumption. For
agricultural land, numerical limits were based on crops intended for direct human
consumption or fed to animals intended for direct human consumption, whichevcr was
the more stringent. For the organic pollutants which can accumulate through the food
Regulatory Requirements 69

chain, the numerical limit was based on crops fed to animals intended for human
consumption. In contrast, the distribution and marketing scenario centered on a fruit
and vegetable home garden, not a garden in which feed for animals is raised.
Therefore, the numerical limits for pollutants in distribution and marketing were
somewhat higher than those for agricultural land application.

c. Monofills

EPA's proposed requirements applying to landfills receiving only biosolids contained

numerical limits on the concentration of 16 pollutants that could not be exceeded for
monofill disposal. These limits were derived from a modelled exposure pathway
analysis and varied depending upon the type of groundwater under the monofill. The
proposal also provided for site specific limits for monofills in defined circumstances.

d. Surface Disposal

In addition to disposal in monofills, EPA developed standards for another widely

practiced land disposal method which EPA called "surface disposal," typically piles
of material placed on the land and defined as areas of land where such material is
placed for a year or longer. EPA concluded that such sites are generally small and in
rural areas and therefore did not expose individuals to significant concentrations of
pollutants. The Agency therefore proposed pollutant concentration limits for surface
disposalbased on the 98th percentile value derived from the data on biosolids quality.
Using a 98th percentile data cap would essentially freeze surface disposed biosolids
at the level of quality represented by the database. Based on low aggregate effects of
existing use and disposal practices, EPA then concluded that this approach would
adequately protect public health and the environment. In the proposed Regulations,
EPA did however commit to revisiting for the final Regulations the issue of whether
to distinguish between different use and disposal methods and to develop exposure
assessment models to evaluate potential risks from surface disposal units for the final

e. Pathopen and Vector Attraction Reduction Requirements

Since the solids resulting from wastewater treatment typically include bacteria,
viruses, protozoa and helminth ova which can cause diseases (usually enteric diseases
through direct human contact with the organism or through the ingestion of an affected
animal), the proposal included requirements for the control of pathogens in biosolids.
It also required measures for reducing contact of the disease "vectors" with such
pathogens. The pathogen and vector attraction reduction requirements were required
for biosolids applied to agricultural and non-agricultural land, distributed and
marketed or disposed of on a monofill or surface disposal site.
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Three levels of pathogen reduction were contained in the proposed Regulations

with applicable restrictions on public access, crops and animal grazing which varied
with the particular level of treatment selected. Two sets of numerical limits were
included and their applicability depended on whether biosolids were to be used in the
production of crops intended for human consumption or for animals raised for human
The level of pathogen reduction Mered in the proposed Regulations for biosolids
intended for land application and those intended for distribution and marketing. The
highest level of pathogen reduction was required for distribution and marketing to the
general public. On the other hand, land application allowed alternative pathogen
reduction standards as long as they were combined with imposed public access and
animal grazing controls and restricted to growing and harvesting of crops to conform
to the standards of the pathogen reduction method selected. In developing the
pathogen reduction requirements, EPA assumed that except for the applier, there
would be little public contact with the biosolids or with the land to which they were
applied and that public access would be restricted for a period of time. The premise
undcrlying the distribution and marketing requirements was that biosolids would be
used in a home garden where there would be immediate and continuous human contact
with the biosolids or with the land to which it was applied and that under such
circumstances no restricted access could be assumed.

f. Incineration Requirements

The proposed 503 Regulations contained requirements for biosolids that are
incinerated in an incinerator firing only biosolids. Such incinerators were required to
comply with the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
(NESHAPS) for mercury and beryllium. For lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and
nickel, the proposed Regulations set limits on the concentration of these mctals in the
biosolids that would be incinerated based on two factors: 1) the control cficiency of
the incinerator and 2) the dispersion factor (i.e., the relationship between ground level
concentrations and pollutant emissions). Limits were designed to result in ground
level concentrations for a given pollutant that would fall below the value required to
protect human health at a cancer risk level of 10.'. For lead, the standard National
Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead; for h s calculation, biosolids incinerators were
assigned 25% of the air shed loading for lead.
The 1989 proposed rulemaking also contained a limit for maximum allowable
total hydrocarbon concentration in biosolids. Like the metal limits, this limitation
would vary with dispersion factors and control efficiency. It was also designed to
prevent ground level concentrations of total hydrocarbons above a level associated
with a cancer risk of lo', To determine this risk-specific concentration for total
hydrocarbons, EPA used a number of assumptions about which organic pollutants
Regulatory Requirements 71

comprised the total hydrocarbon mixture and the levels at which these organics were

g. Monitoring. Recordkeepinp and Reporting

The proposed Regulations required owners and operators of treatment works to

sample and analyze their biosolids and keep certain records. The specific pollutants
for which monitoring was required was determined by the method of biosolids use or
disposal. Frequency of monitoring would vary with the design capacity of the
treatment works. Treatment works were also required to monitor biosolids for
compliance with pathogen reduction requirements when they were to be used or
disposed of other than by incineration. For incineration, the proposal required owners
or operators to monitor continuously for stack hydrocarbon concentrations, feed rate,
combustion temperature and oxygen content of the exit gas.
Another provision of the proposed 503 Regulations required an agreement
between the treatment works and the distributor or land applier which would contain
the mformation needed for proposed reporting requirements. EPA also proposed that
treatment works applymg biosolids to agricultural land keep records for the life of the
treatment works to insure that no cumulative pollutant loading rate would be exceeded
for a paiticular parcel of agricultural land to which biosolids were applied. Similar
reporting requirements were proposed for non-agricultural lands, with the cxception
that treatment works did not have to keep track of annual and cumulative pollutant
loading rates and therefore, need only retain records for five years.
For surface disposal, five years' retention of the analytical data on pollutant
concentrations and pathogen reduction were required and ten years of such
recordkeeping for monofills. Under the proposal, incinerator records were also
required to be kept for five years.

4. Risk Assessnient

EPA's risk assessment processes and tools have been developed to identily the
potential for adverse aRects associated with a pollutant in order to deteimine what, if
any, measures are needed to protect public health and the environment. In developing
the 503 Regulations, EPA evaluated such risk from individual pollutants present in
biosolids. This risk assessment can be broken down into four stages:

hazard identification
5 dose-response evaluation
* exposure evaluation
* characterization of risks
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Hazard Identification
The first element in risk assessment--hazard identification--determines the nature
of the effects that may be experienced by an exposed human or ecosystem from
an identified pollutant. Thus, hazard identification helps to determine whether a
pollutant poses a hazard and whether sufficient information exists to perform a
quantitative risk assessment. By gathering and evaluating all relevant data that
help determine whether a pollutant poses a specific hazard and quantitatively
evaluating those data on the bases of the type of effect produced, the conditions
of exposure and the metabolic processes that govern pollutant behavior within the
organism, potential hazards can be identified. Hazard identification may also
characterize the behavior of a pollutant in the environment (or within an
organism) as well interactions within the environment or within an organism.
Hazard identification therefore helps to determine whether it is scientifically
appropriate to infer that observed effects under one set of conditions (e.g., in
experimental animals) are likely to occur in other settings (e.g.,in human beings)
and whether a quantitative risk assessment can be developed from available data.
The first step in hazard identification is to gather mformation on the toxic
properties of pollutants through animal studies and controlled epidemiological
investigations of exposed human populations.
Animal toxicity studies are based on assumptions that effects in human
beings can be inferred from effects in animals. Animals bioassays include acute
exposure tests, subchronic tests, and chronic tests. Acute exposure to high doses
for short periods of time (usually 24 hours or less) is most commonly measured
as m e d m lethal dose (Ld&-(the dose level that is lethal to 50 percent of the test
animals). Ld,is also used for aquatic toxicity tests (i.e,, concentrations of the test
substance in water that will result in 50 percent mortality in test species).
Substanceswith a low LD, are more acutely toxic than those with higher values;
for example, sodium cyanide has an M,, of 6.4 m g k g while that of sodium
chloride is 3000 mgkg. Subchronic tests utilize repeated exposure of test
animals for periods ranging from 5 to 90 days depending on the animals by
exposure routes which comespond to human exposures. Such tests are used to
determine the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL), the lowest observed
adverse effect level (LOAEL) and the maximum tolerated dose (MTD). This
latter is the largest dose a test animal can receive for most of its lifetime without
demonstrating adverse effects (not including cancer). For chronic effects, test
animals receive h l y doses of the test agent for approximately two to three years
at doses lower than those used in acute and subchronic studies. The number of
animals for these tests is also larger since the tests are trying to determine effects
that will be observed in only a small percentage of the animals tests.
Health effects can also be evaluated using epidemiology, the study of patterns
of disease in human populations and the factors the influence those patterns.
Well-conducted epidemiological studies are generally viewed by scientists as the
Regulatory Requirements 73

most valuable information from which to draw inferences about human health
risks. Unlike the other approaches described above, epidemiological methods
evaluate the effects of hazardous substances directly on human beings. They help
to identify human health hazards without requiring knowledge of the causative
factor and they complement information gained from animal studies.
Epidemiological studies compare the health status of a group of people who
have been exposed to a suspected causal agent with that of a comparable non-
exposed group. In case control studies, individuals with a specific disease are
identified (cases) and compared with individuals not having the disease (control)
in order to attempt to find common exposures. Cohort studies begin with a group
of people (a cohort) considered fi-eeof the specific disease; the health status of the
cohort known to have a common exposure is examined over time to determine
whether specific conditions or causes of death occur more frequently than might
be expected from other causes.
The next step in hazard identification is to combine the data to ascertain the
degree of hazard associated with each pollutant. EPA generally uses different
approaches to assess hazard associated with carcinogenic versus non-
carcinogenic effects. For non-carcinogenic health effects (e.g., mutagenic effects,
systemic toxicity), EPA's hazard identificatiodweight of evidence determination
has not been formalized and is based on qualitative assessment.
For carcinogenic risk assessment, EPA groups all human and animal data
reviewed into the following categories of degree of evidence of carcinogenicity:

- sufficient
limited (e.g., in animals increased incidents of benign tumors only)
no data available
0 no evidence of carcinogenicity
Human and animal evidence of carcinogenicity in these categories is
combined into the following classifications:
Group A - human carcinogen
Group B - probable human carcinogen
B 1 - higher degree of evidence
B2 - lower degree of evidence
Group C - possible human carcinogen
Group D - not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity
Group E - evidence of non-carcinogenicity
The following factors are evaluated by judging the relevance of the data for
a particular pollutant:

- quality of data
resolving power of the studies
relevance of route and timing of exposure
appropriateness of dose selection
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replication of effects
number of species examined
availability of human epidemiologic study data
Hazard identification enables researchers to characterize the body of
scientific data in such a way that the following questions can be answered: 1) Is
a pollutant a hazard? 2) Is a quantitative assessment appropriate? Conducting
such quantitative assessments involves dose-response evaluations and exposure

Dose ResDonse Evaluation

Estimating what dose of a chemical produces a given response for a particular
pollutant is the second step in the risk assessment methodology. Evaluating such
data characterizesthe connection between exposure to a pollutant and the extent
of injury or disease. Most dose-response relationships are based on animals
studies, since even good epidemiological studies rarely will have good
information on exposure. In the current context, "threshold" characteristics of a
pollutant refer to exposure levels below which no adverse health effects are
assumed to occur. For effects involving genetic alterations (including
carcinogenicity and mutagenicity) EPA postulates that effects may take place at
vary low doses and therefore these compounds are modeled with no thresholds.
For most other biological effects, the usual assumption is that threshold levels
exist. For non-threshold effects, the key assumption is that the dose response
cuve for each pollutant exlubitiig these effects in the human population achieves
zero risk only at zero dose. Mathematical modeling extrapolates response data
fiom doses in the obseived (experimental) range to response estimates in the low
dose ranges. EPA's cancer assessment guidelines recommend the use of multi-
stage model which yields estimates of risk that are conservative, representing a
plausible upper limit of risk.
Systemic toxicants or other compounds which exhibit non-carcinogenic and
non-mutagenic health effects are assumed to exhibit threshold effects. Dose
response evaluations involve calculating what is known as the reference dose
(oral exposure) or reference concentration (inhalation exposure) are RfD and RfC
respectively. RfDs and RfCs are estimates of a daily exposure to the human
population that is likely to be without appreciable risks of a negative effect during
a lifetime. The RfD and RfC valucs are calculated from data establishing a no
observed effect level (NOEL), no obmved adverse effect level (NOAEL), lowest
observed effect level (LOEL), or lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL).
These values are stated in mgkg per day and values are derived from laboratoiy
animal and human epidemiology data. Uncertainty factors are applied to the IUD
and RfC values depending upon the level of confidence EPA has in the data used
to derive them. Uncertainty factors vary with the nature and quality of the data
from which the NOAEL or LOAEL is derived and range from 10 to 10,000.
Regulatory Requirements 75

These uncertainty factors are used to extrapolate from acute to chronic effects, to
accounf for differences in species sensitivity or variation in sensitivity in human
populations and, if appropriate, to extrapolate from an LOAEL to a NOAEL. If
information is available for only one route of exposure, this infomation is used
to extrapolate to other routes in the absence of I s and RfCs for those routes.
Once an RfD or R E is derived, the next step in risk assessment is to estimate

Exposure Evaluation
EPA relies on two methods to determine pollutant concentration: 1) direct
monitoring of pollutant levels and 2) using mathematical models to predict
pollutant concentrations. Atter environmental pollutant concentrations are
determined by one of the above methods, EPA then determines the severity of the
exposure by evaluating data on the nature and size of the population exposed,
exposure route (i.e., oral, inhalation, dermal), the extent of exposure
(concentration x time) and the circumstances of exposure.
Collecting monitoring data provides the most accurate information about
pollutant concentrations. Such monitoring includes personal and ambient (or site
and location) monitoring. To reduce the variability of exposure assessments to
individual persons, the technique of sampling air and water and then combining
that information with the amount of time spent in various microenvironments (i.e.,
home, car or office) provides an estimate of exposure. Personal monitoring may
also include sampling of human body fluids (biological monitoring or
biomonitoring). Biological markers (biomarkers) can be classified as markers of
exposure of effect and susceptibility. An example of a biomarker of exposure is
lead concentration in blood. A biomarker of effect measures some biochemical,
physiologic or other alteration within the organism that points to impaired health.
Biomonitoring may also refer to the regular sampling of animals, plants or
microorganisms in an ecosystem. Ambient monitoring (or site or location
monitoring) involves collecting samples from the air, water, soil or sediment at
predetermined locations and analyzing them to determine environmental
concentrations at those locations. Exposures can be further evaluated by
modeling the fate and transport of the pollutants.
Measurements are a direct and preferred source of information for exposure
analysis, but such measurements are expensive and are oAen limited
geographically. Such data can be best used to calibrate mathematical models that
simulate the movement of pollutants into and through the environment with
mathematical equations or algorithms that can be more widely applied.
Mathematical models must account for both physical and chemical properties
related to fate and transport and must document mathematical properties, spacial
properties and time properties. Of the hundreds of models for fate, transport and
dispersion available for all media, there are five general types: atmospheric,
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surfacewater, groundwater, and unsaturatedzone, multi-mediamodels and food

chain models. These types of models are primarily applicable to pollutants
associated with dust and other particles.

-. PoDulation Analvsis
Population analysis describes the size, characteristicsand habits of potentially
exposed human and non-human populations. Census and other survey data may
be usem in iden* and describing the populations exposed to a pollutant.
Integratedexposme a d y s s calculatesexpowe levels and describes the exposed
population and uses this information to quantify the contact of an exposed
population to each pollutant under investigationvia all routes of exposure and all
pathways h m the sources to the exposed individuals. In addition,uncertainty
must be described and quantified to the extent possible to achieve a valid
exposure analysis.
EpA's policy with respect to risk characterizationis designed to convey the
extent of the Agency's confidence in risk estimates. It is also important that risk
assessment information be clearly presented and separate fiom any risk
management considerations. Evaluating how exposure assessments were
conducted provides one method for i d e n e g the uncertainties in risks. For
example, in the human health risk assessment for the 503 Regulations, the
technical support documents define several exposure pathways for the three
biosolids management practices. EPA used point estimates for each exposure
pathway and did not consider variability of the parameters describingexposure
among individuals. Based on the amount of data and the lack of accepted risk
assessment methodologies in certain areas, it is difllcult to judge whether the
point estimates in the human health risks assessment and assumptionsmade in the
ecological effects assessment are likely to underestimateor overestimate actual
risks. Some aspects of the risk analysis probably contain coI1sefv(Ltiveor
protective assumptions while other factors may bias results in the opposite
direction. Also,some assumptions are based on EPA policy and reflect risk
management choices; some of which are conservativewhile others are less so.

% Human Health Assessment

Based on staradard Agency practice, human-health dose-response assessmentsfor
the 503 Regulations are based on RfDs for non-carcinogensand cancer potency
factors for carcinogens. Both of these measures are generally considered
conservative, thatis, they predict a greater impact on human health than is likely
to actually occur. The referencedose is defied as an estimate of a daily exposure
to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be
without appreciablerisks of deleterious affects during a lifetime. It is based on
themost sensitive adverse dect found by toxicologicaltesting and then applying
Regulatory Requirements 77

a series of unmtainly factors so that higher exposures may also not present any
appmiablerisk For example, it assumesthat humans may be an order of magnitude
more Sensitivethanthe animals tested. But in fact humans may also be less sensitive.
This Bssesgnenf method also assumes,except as noted, that the risk assessmentsrelied
an far theseregulationsare based on exposureslasting a lifetime, whereas in fact they
may be much shorter. Similarly, cancer risks are calculated in the risk assessment
guidelines as "plausibleupper bounds" to the actual risk. Conservativeassumptions
used in these calculations, such as use of the most sensitiveanimal data in bioassays,
linear extrapolaticnto low doses, species-to-species conversionbased on surface area
and use of an upper confidence limit for the dose response slope make it unlikely that
cancer risk would be greater than what is calculated; in fact, it could be orders of
magnitude less or even zero. The application of uncertainty factors in the risk
assessment process provides a conservative level of protection even in the face of
limited data on the factors described above.

* Home Garden Scenario

A primarily focus of concern in developingthe 503 Regulations was the human
food chain pathway, that is the production of crops by gardeners and farmers.
The population assessed for this pathway were people who used biosolids to
produce crops for their own consumption. EPA made specific assumption about
a number of variables addressinghuman behavior and properties of biosolids as

* Plant Uptake of Metals

The risk assessment estimated metal concentrations in plants using a linear
uptake line whose slope was based on the assumption that metal uptake was
proportional to cumulative applicationrates of biosolids. The uncertainty as to
whether this is appropriate arises fiom data on plant concentration versus
application rate which suggests a nonlinear relationship. EPA's assessment of
linearity is therefore conwative because application rates allowed under 503
are in g d well in excess of test plot application rates and data ffom long-term
(>20 years) studies support the conclusion that actual metal concentrations in
plants plateau at these higher application rates (seeFigure 2-1).
Anadditid- ty in the plant uptake calculation arises fiom the uses
of gemnet& means for all slopes calculated fiom individual studies. Assuming
a log normal distribution,the geometric mean provides an estimate of the median
(50th percentile) slope. Such a value is useful in estimating uptake for "typical
biosolids." Individual studies used by EPA to calculate plant uptake used
bimlids with higher metals Concentrations than the "typicalbiosolids" on the
Metal level in biosolids-amended soil


Regulatory Requirements 79

market today; therefore, these biosolids with higher metal concentrations most
likely produced higher plant concentrations than would be likely using current
A further uncertainty results from the way the geometric mean calculations
were performed. A value of 0.001 was used as the uptake slope from studies
which showed no significant increase in metal uptake by the crops. Since the
geometric mean calculation is very sensitive to the inclusion of low values and it
appears that 0.001 is smaller than the upperbound on uptake that would be
obtained from "no significant increase in metal uptake" studies, the use of this
default slope of 0.001 may therefore underestimate the typical slope for crop

Dietary Consumption
Pollutant limits for the 503 Regulations were calculated based on population
average food consumption estimates. Survey data from short-term food
consumption reports of large surveyed populations provided the basis for these
estimates--an accepted basis for estimating population average food consumption
Such estimates do not reflect the higher food consumption rates per unit of
body weight of young children compared with adults. Another limitation arises
from the fact that it is possible that individuals who raise a particular crop may
have a highcr consumption rate than do individuals who only buy such a crop.
On the other hand, homc gardens do not produce a specific crop year round,
which may offset this bias.
EPA estimated the amount of food coming from biosolids treated land using
USDA survey data on average percentage food consumption from home-grown
crops. EPA estimated that large garden plots were required to produce the
amount of home grown crops consumed although EPA believes that a relatively
small percentage of gardens are that large. Also, because of seasonal factors it
may be difficult for most gardeners to produce the quantities of leaf) vegctables
that are assumed; leafy vegetables are an important factor in the risk assessment
since they tend to have high mctal uptake slopes.

Plant Toxicity and Uptake

The plant toxicity (pliytotoxicity) assessment was based on the relationships
between biosolids application and tissue residue, between tissue residues and
growth reduction, and between growth reduction and yield reduction. The
relationship between growth reduction and yield reduction is particularly
uncertain and will vary with chemicals, crop species and toxic endpoints. Some
crops (e.g., beans) and endpoints (e.g., reproduction) may be more sensitive to
the effects of biosolids, although other crops (e.g., sudan grass) and endpoints
(e.g., mortality) may be less sensitive. There are limited data about non-
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cultivated forest species and perennials and these may differ in their response to
biosolids-borne contaminants.
Metal phytotoxicity depends particularly on soil pH and the degree of
binding to the biosolids matrix. Since most metals are more available in acidic
soil, EPA used the assumption of a soil pH of 5.5 as representing a reasonable
worst case condition for agricultural soils. Based upon results from several field
studies, EPA believes that metals are bound to the biosolids matrix and remain
relatively unavailable biologically.

0. Wildlife
In the absence of standard methodology at EPA for assessing iisks to wildlife,
there are uncertainties about how biosolids application affects terrestrial wildlife
and soil biota. Available data and methodologies only describe direct toxicity to
a few species. With uncertainties as to how to extrapolate this information to
other birds, mammals, amphibians and soil invertebrates whose relative
sensitivity to the compounds of concern is unknown. The ecotoxicological
analysis focused on cadmium and lead which had the most data available. EPA
used a simple linear model of bioaccumulation or bioconcentration from soil to
earthworms to shrews and did not model the more complex effects of biosolids
contaminants on the terrestrial food chain. In the absence of standard
methodologies, EPA did not consider how amendment of forest soils or edges of
agncultural fields with biosolids might change the composition of species in the
plant community, either through nutrient enhancement or phytotoxicity, and any
subsequent ramifications such changes might have throughout the food web.
Uncertainty about the impact of biosolids on soil biota exist because the criteria
are based solely on a N O E L for the earthworm (Eiseniafoetidu) which may not
be the most sensitive or appropiiate species for evaluating many of the chemicals.
Possible additional factors influencing soil flora and fauna include adding
nutrients to the soil and possible increased exposure to organisms that feed in the
litter layer due to the organic matter in biosolids. While these considerations need
to be explored further, it should be noted that the same lack of data and
uncei-hinties exist with respcct to the current agricultural practices on sites used
to produce food and feed crops throughout the US.
Section 405 of the CWA requires EPA to develop standards for biosolids use
or disposal, to protcct from reasonably anticipated adverse affects, and to
promulgate these standards in two stages and to revise the standards periodically.
EPA concluded that the standards adopted on February 19, 1993 are adequately
protective based on its assessment of available data. To verify the conclusions
about the adequacy of these standards, EPA has committed to developing a
comprehensive,environmental evaluation and monitoring study. The results will
provide a database for the Round 2 biosolids standards and will also help the
Agency in its efforts to develop a comprehensive, ecological risk assessment
Regulatory Requirements 81

methodology and to conect any uncertainties in future Part 503 rulemakings. The
final plan, including study design, will be available for public comment at the
time that Round 2 regulation is proposed.

Risk Management Auuroach

Using risk characterizationinformation, EPA can determine if a "SigIllficant"or
"unreasonable"risk exjsts, what controls are needed and how to communicatethis
risk to the public and regulated community. The mere identification of risk is not
necessarily enough to just@ action. Also,non-risk factors, such as availability
and effectivenessof controls, whether alternativesexist and any benefits lost or
gained as a result of umtmls must be evaluated by the Agency to reach a decision.
Under each exposure scenario, EPA identifies a range of control strategies and
regulatory requirements that usually reduce exposure so that the risk or identified
effect is put back into balance with the benefits. Using this information provided
in therisk management step, EPA can then select the appropriate control strategy
and means for communicating it.
For the 503 regulations, EPA's approach was to establish management
practices and numerical limits (standards) to safeguard public health and the
environment by examining use or disposal practices and the probability that
individuals would be exposed to pollutants Itom these practices. The Agency
identified the types of risks involved (e.g., drinking water with pollutant levels
exceeding the MCLs for drinking water) and examined the possibility of special
populations at greater risks (e.g., small children playing in gardens where
biosolids have been applied), and examined whether individuals voluntarily
incurred the risks. Finally, EPA used exposure assessment models to project the
effecton an individual receiving maximum dose throughout an average life span
of 70 years. Aggregate effects analyses were employed to project the incidents
of adverse health effects on the population as a whole (e.g., the number of people
exposed to lead at levels producing adverse health effects).
For its regulatoy approach in the proposed Regulations, EPA primarily
focused on two types of risks: that to a most exposed individual (MEI) receiving
a maximum dose and risk to the population as a whole (aggregate risk). The
Agency examined both the individual and aggregate effect of each alternative to
balance the uncertainties in the analyses. Available data resulted in the greater
emphasis being placed on public health than on environmentaleffects, although
environmentaleffects were considered in the determinationof what constituted
adequate protection as long as they could be identified even qualitatively.
Individual vs. aggregate risk results in divided opinion. Some argue that no
individual should be at high risk and thatconsidering the number of people at risk
leads to acceptance of higher individual risk when two people are exposed; using
maximumindividual risk alone h u t s the effectivenessof the Regulations by not
indicating how many people may be affected since they only relate to carcinogenic
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risk to the MET Aggregate risk can also be seen as an appropriate measure of
total public health impact and therefore a good indicator of whether the goal of
adequately protecting public health has been achieved. A combination of
approaches was selected by EPA for the purposes of the proposed 503; this was
revised for the hal Regulations based on current Agency policy, public comment
and scientific peer review.
For the proposed 503 Regulations, using the ME1 approach, the Agency
identified a most exposed individual plant or animal that remained for an
extended period of time at or adjacent to the site where the maximum exposure
occurs. EPA used models of 14 exposure pathways to determine the
concentration of biosolids-borne pollutants that may be utilized or disposed of in
each use and disposal practice without exceeding human health or environmental
criterions. These criteria were taken from those already published or
promulgated by the Agency, fiom human health criteria developed by the Agency
or from plant and animal toxicity values published in scientific literature. For
example, to protect sources of drinking water, pollutant limits were developed
which would ensure that the Agency’s maximum contaminant levels were not
violated. For surface water protection, Water Quality Criteria were used. For
carcinogens, the risk specific doses corresponding to an incremental carcinogenic
risk level of 1 x 10” were used for all use and disposal practices except when
biosolids were distributed and marketed. For distribution and marketing,
numerical limits were established so as not to exceed an incremental carcinogenic
risk level of 1 x lo6. For all pathways, the human MEIs assumed to be the most
sensitive individuals were continuously exposed over a 70 year lifetime.
Endpoints for the ecologicals MEIs were conservatively developed using the most
sensitive species with steady state duration and concentration of exposure over
a critical life period.
For all use or disposal practices, carcinogenic risk targets were applied
pollutant by pollutant, except for the organic pollutants in the emissions of
biosolids incinerators. In this case, EPA set a limit on total hydrocarbon
emissions, rather than on each individual pollutant as described previously.
For the proposed 503 Regulations, the Agency’s approach to situations where
individuals were unlikely to be exposed to biosolids pollutants (i.e., forests,
reclaimed lands, and others) a proposed 98th-percentile pollutant concentration
was developed based on the assumption that such practices would have negligible
impacts on human diets. These pollutant concentration limits also applied to
surface disposal since the Agency believed such sites are generally small, located
away from population centers and presented little likelihood of exposure.
Regulatory Requirements 83

5 . Conments/Review oJProposed Rule

EPA solicited comments on a wide range of issues, including the hndamental

principles of the 503 Regulations, the carcinogenic risk levels, other human health and
environmentalcriteria, changes resulting from other Agency actions, the models used,
die ME1 and aggregate risk analyses, the cost benefits estimates of the Rule and data
deficiencies. The EPA committed to seek and support scientific peer review of the
technical bases of the rulemaking during the public comment period (1 8 3 days). The
major peer review groups with which EPA worked during the public comment period

Land Practices Peer Review Committee -- This specially convened group of

biosolids experts reviewed in depth the land application, distribution and
marketing, monofilling and suiface disposal provisions. The group was
comprised of nationally known experts on biosolids use and disposal, including
members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture W-170 Committee along with
representatives from a broad diversity of views. The Peer Review Committee's
final report was officially submitted to EPA on July 24, 1989. [ 121

EPA Science Advisory Board -- The SAE3 reviewed the technical bases of the
incineration portion of the incineration portion of the regulation. As various SAB
committees have reviewed similar EPA incineration regulations in the past, most
notably for municipal solid waste combustion and hazardous waste incineration.
Their final report of August 7, 1989 was also submitted to EPA. [ 131

During the comment period, EPA received more than 5,500 pages of comments
from 656 commenters during the 183 day public comment period. Comments were
submitted from municipalities, industries, federal and state agencies, professional
associations, academia and the general public. These comments were provided in
addition to the foimal peer review described above.
These public and scientific review groups provided EPA a comprehensive rangc
of opinions, comments, and recommendations. Many commenters criticized the
Agency's risk assessment as being overconservative for some use and disposal
practices and underconseivative for others. Other significant areas of criticism
included the risk levels used by EPA ( i c , which risk levels are most appropriate);
data selection and the parameters used in the analysis of exposure assessment and thc
impacts that the proposed nile would have on beneficial use of biosolids. Following
the public comment period, EPA provided public notice of the availability of National
Sewage Sludge Sluvey data along with information and data from the Sewage Sludge
Incinerator Study and the Domestic Septage Study. The notice described some of the
rcsults of the survey and changes the Agency considered making to the proposed 503
Regulations as a result of these studies. The notice also requested comments on a
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number of changes to the use and disposal standards that were being considered for
the 503 Regulations in light of the comments submitted earlier the peer review and
new idormation developed since the February 8, 1989 proposal. During the 60-day
public comment period for the NSSS notice, the Agency received more than 1000
pages of comments from 153 commenters. Many of these comments supported the
changes identified in the notice as potential revisions to Part 503.


A. Introduction

Thc Agency's proposed regulatory approaches received extensive peer review and
public comment, focusing especially on the ME1 exposure scenario used and the use
of the 98th percentile technique.
The Agency agreed with many of the comments provided by the public and the
scientific peer review committees and noted that there is no clear guidance in Section
405, which contains only limited discussion of how to establish pollutant limits and
concluded that its statutory duty was to protect against reasonable risks to exposed
populations and not to risk associated with highly unlikely or unusual circumstances.
Therefore, the Agency decided to evaluate the risk to a highly exposed individual
(I-IEI) instead of the ME1 for the final 503 risk assessment. This approach more
realistically protects the health of individuals or populations which are at higher risks
than the population as a whole.
EPA retained a 70-year exposure for the HE1 in the final risk assessmcnt as a
conservative assumption in the context of a highly mobile society. Furthermore, this
70-year exposure duration represents a steady state assumption that is consistent with
the measure of carcinogenic risk (i.e., the probability of contracting cancer based upon
a lXetime--70 year-exposure). Tlus esposure assessment assumption, which is in part
a policy judgment by EPA, was considered by the Agency to be preferable to the less
conservative alternatives suggested and, in the Agency's opinion, represents an
appropriate response to their obligation to protect public health. Furthermore, EPA
believes that retaining the 70-year assumption insures that the population of highly
esposed individuals will remain extremely small.
In preparing the proposed 503 Regulations, EPA used what it believed were
"reasonableworst-case assumptions." Each of these has a margin of safety associated
with it, depending on the accuracy ofdata and information supporting it. For example,
if EPA had insufficient data from biosolids/field studies 011 metals uptake in crops,
data from biosolids/pot studies or saldpot studies were used in the original ME1 risk
assessment analysis. The margin of safety associated with the data from saltlpot
studies is much geater than the margin of safety associated with data from
biosolids/pot studies and far greater than the margin of safety associated with data
from biosolids/field studies.
Regulatory Requirements 85

The proposed Regulations were developed using each of the above types of data
described above and in addition, selected data using only studies which showed an
effect, thus eliminating valid field studies in favor of pot studies or salt studies which
showed an effect which did not occur at similar levels in the field. Individual
researchers and members of the peer review committee emphasized that data from pot
and metal salt experiments should not be extrapolated to results found in the field.
Thus the peer review concluded that the approach used to select data for individual
contaminants and pathways in the proposed rule was scientifically unsound and needed
to be revised.
The peer review committee also criticized E P A s identification of an ME1 in the
proposed rulemaking. As noted by the committee:

"The exposures implied by the MEIs are grossly exaggerated and it is

impossible to know the probability that such an ME1 exists. Because the
assumptions underlying selection of the various MEIs differ, the extent of
conservatism embodied in the various ME1 exposure models also differs.
Further, insufficient information is available to compare the relative degree
of conservatism of one ME1 with another. Consequently, it can be
misleading to compare risks derived from one ME1 with another because
different premises were used within and among disposal options. The
reliance on "worst-case" scenarios pervades these [proposed 5031 documents
and needs to be reconsidered. The ME1 is so rigidly defined that it
completely overshadows other components of the risk assessment pathways
and even to the extent that it makes the issue of 'inappropriate' technical
material almost irrelevant."[12, p. xi]

The problem occurred when a series of parameters and assumptions, each having
large margins of safety, were used in the same exposure pathway assessment. This
results in an unrealistically conservative analysis which the Agency acknowledged
could conceivably over-regulate a useldisposal practice.
Information provided by the NSSS, the incinerator study, the scientific peer
review committees and the public was incorporated into the aggregate risk assessment
for the final Rule and showed minimal risk from current biosolids management
methods (pre-Part 503 or base line risk). EPA agreed with the public and the
scientific peer review committees that the 98th percentile approach is inconsistent
with the ME1 approach and that numerical limitations derived ftom the 98th percentile
approach do not insure protection of public health and the environment because they
lack a formal pathway risk assessment. In developing the proposed 503 standards, the
Agency had relied on this approach because it did not have reliable exposure
assessment models nor input data and information to conduct the pathway risk
assessment for certain practices. The Agency also believed that this 98th percentile
approach was supported by the aggregate risk assessment which showed low exposure
86 Forste

and minimal human health impacts on the population as a whole from the use and
disposal practices which would be governed by this approach. Following the
proposal, the Agency workcd with experts within and outside EPA to devclop and
refine modeling techniques and supporting data to conduct a formal pathway risk
asscssmcnt for these practices. Public comments and scientific peer review provided
EPA with better data and lnfoimation so that numerical limitations for all biosolids use
and disposal practices could be derived using risk assessment.
For the final Regulations, EPA selected an approach based on a risk to highly
exposed individuals (HEIs) and consideration for higher risk populations (aggregate
risk assessment), not an unrealistic worst-case ME1 approach. EPA believes this
approach is consistent with the congressional intent to establish standards adequate
to protect public health and the environment from reasonably anticipated adverse
affccts of each pollutant.
In the final Regulations, EPA evaluated the risk to highly exposed individuals and
populations from pollutants found in biosolids using differcnt exposure assessment
pathways. In evaluating the standards for the final Rule, the Agency established
criteria based not only on cancer risk but on a series of other health and environmental
effects, including the overall incidence of othcr serious health effects within thc
esposed population as a whole (including average exposed and highly exposed
individuals and within special subpopulations such as children). EPA also evaluated
effects on plants and animals and considered policy assumptions, estimation of
uncertainties and margin of safety, weight of the scientific evidence for human health
and environmental effects, other quantified or unquantified health and environmental
effects and other impacts associated with use and disposal of biosolids before selecting
the final standards.
The Agency also determined that in order to insure adequate protection of public
hcalth and the environment, they needed to add safety factors to the numerical criteria
derived from the exposure assessments. This dccision also served a sccond critical
objcctivc in the rulcmaking, that is, to promotc the use of biosolids for their beneficial
properties. EPA believes that an inportant component to promote beneficial usc of
biosolids involves building public confidence that using biosolids to @-OW food that
the public eats is safe, and that adding a margin of safety to the model-derived criteria
should help to encourage this practice.
In addition, adding safety factors to the model-derived numerical criteria enabled
EPA to overcome some of the unquantifiable variables in the real world movement of
pollutants fi-ombiosolids to environmental end points. EPA therefore made a number
of assumptions to reduce the complexity of actual experience. The Agency believcd
that these exposure assessments generated numerical criteria consistent with the stated
goals of the rulemaking. Also, through its exposure assessments, EPA derived
numerical limitations from metals that represented the total quantity that could be
added to the soil. So long as that total quantity (loading) for the metal is not exceeded,
the eqosure assessment models predict that there will be no haim to the HEI. Sincc
Regulatory Requirements a7

the model does not concern itselfwith whether the total quantity is received in a single
application or over time, adopting a purely cumulative loading approach would mean
that biosolids with extremely high metals concentration could be applied to the land
so long as the cumulative load is not exceeded. Such an approach, which is strictly
risk based, could therefore allow for degradation of current biosolids quality. EPA's
aggregate risk assessment shows only small effects associated with current use and
disposal--that is, biosolids used at pre-503 pollutant concentration levels presented a
low risk and therefore such levels already had an inherent level of protection.
The models do not look exclusively at data from the most heavily contaminated
biosolids. Therefore, in order to ensure continued protection of public health and the
environment EPA determined that existing quality of biosolids applied to land should
be "protected" and not allowed to deteriorate above current concentration levels. EPA
has stated that implicit in its numerical pollutant limits for land application is the
assumption that biosolids with low concentrations of pollutants are safe and to
downgrade the quality of biosolids reduces the protective levels inherent in such
limits. EPA concluded that its uncertainty about the protectiveness of the numerical
criteria derived from the exposure assessment models for land application is increased
by adding margins of safety to the numerical criteria. Accordingly, the Agency placed
a "ceiling" on the concentration of pollutants in biosolids that may be applied to land
at the 99th perccntile pollutant concentration from the NSSS survey. This ceiling
concentration is the &r of the 99th percentile pollutant concentration or risk based
pollutant limitation and acts as a trigger, dictating when biosolids quality is no longer
suitable for beneficial use, regardless of how it is applied to the land. One important
purpose of the ceiling limits is to direct the "cleanest biosolids" into beneficial usc
practices. The agency has also "capped" the numerical pollutant limits for land
application at the 99th percentile pollutant concentration found in the NSSS. If that
concentration is lower than the risk-based numerical pollutant limit, this cap
dctermines when biosolids quality is suitable for beneficial use under the alternative
pollutant limit concept or must be applied using cumulative pollutant loading rates as
discussed below.
EPA made these risk policy decisions (i.e., the capping and ceiling) to provide an
additional margin of safety to protect public health and the environment beyond the
risk-based standards developed for the final rule while maintaining quality to
encourage utilization consistent with the Agency's beneficial use policy.
A complete description of the exposure assessment methodology and risk
management issues for the proposcd 503 rulemaking is found at 54 Federal Register
5764 - 5791. The following section describes the exposure assessment pathways
modeled in the final Part 503 Rule and the basis for the decisions made in developing
the approach for each use and disposal practice. A detailed discussion of the exposure
assessment methodology (i.e., models, pathways, parameter values, assumptions and
others) and the risk management decisions used by EPA to develop the final Part 503
numerical critcria are contained in the Technical Support Documents.
88 Forste

B. Exposure Assessment Pathways

EPA evaluated 14 pathways of potential exposure to pollutants in biosolids of the final

Part 503 Regulations. The Regulations distinguish between biosolids applied to the
land for a beneficial purpose and biosolids disposed of on the land.
EPA evaluated potential exposure when biosolids are used as a fertilizer or soil
conditioner in one of two ways: agricultural and non-agricultural land application.
Agricultural land application includes use to produce food or feed crops commercially
by agricultural producers on pasture and rangeland and also by a home gardener
(formerly described as distribution and marketing in the proposed rule; in the final rule
characterized as biosolids "sold or given away in a bag or container"). Non-
agricultural land includes forest, reclamation and public contact sites. The descriptive
term "surface disposal"in the final rule applies to biosolids disposed on land either in
piles or in biosolids-only landfills which are also referred to as monofills. For surface
disposal, EPA evaluated two pathways of exposure. Incineration was evaluated by a
single pathway of exposure--inhalation. The final exposure assessment pathways
evaluated in the final Part 503 Regulations are:

Land Amhxtion (Beneficial Use)

Biosolids-soil-plant-human(Pathway 1)
Biosolids-soil-plant-home gardener (Pathway 2)
Biosolids-soil-child (Pathway 3)*
Biosolids-soil-plant-animal-human (Pathway 4)
Biosolids-soil-animal-human(Pathway 5)
Biosolids-soil-plant-animaltoxicity (Pathway 6)
Biosolids-soil-animal toxicity (Pathway 7)
Biosolids-soil-plant toxicity (Pathway 8)**
Biosolids-soil-soil biota toxicity (Pathway 9)
Biosolids-soil-soil biota-predator of soil biota toxicity (Pathway 10)
Biosolids-soil-airborne dust-human (Pathway 11)
Biosolids-soil-surface water-contaminatedwater-fish toxicity-human
toxicity (Pathway 12)
Biosolids-soil-air-human (Pathway 1 3)
Biosolids-soil-groundwater-human (Pathway 14)

9 Surface Disposal
Biosolids-soil-air-human (Pathway 13)
Biosolids-soil-groundwater-human(Pathway 14)

Biosolids-incineration particulate-air-human (Pathway 13)
Regulatory Requirements 89

* Most limiting pathway (regulatory limit) for arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury
and selenium.
** Most limiting pathway (regulatory limit) for copper, lead, nickel and zinc.

For situations where EPA determined that these exposure assessment pathways
for a particular use or disposal option did not yield adequately protective results,
additional management practices were imposed under the Regulations to prevent
environmental abuses and to protect public health.
All pathways, except 3 , s and 7, assume the mixing of biosolids with 15 cm (i.c.,
six inch plow layer) of the suiface soil, either by incorporation or by natural
weatheringprocesses. Using this assumption, which entails the affected surface layer
having a mass of two million kghectare, pollutant concentrations in soil (per unit mass
of soil) could be converted to cumulative pollutant loading rates for metals (mass of
pollutant/hectare of land, In addition, annual pollutant loading rates for organics (mass
of pollutant per hectare of land per 365-days) could also be converted to pollutant
concentrations in soil.
EPA first determined the pollutant concentration in soil that would be allowed
(i.e., the maximum pollutant concentration in soil that when taken up by a plant and
consumed by a target organisms does not produce undue risk for a particular pathway).
Having made that determination, the model then can be used to determine the
allowable pollutant loading rate in two different ways.

I. Metals are determined based on a cumulative pollutant loading rate. That is, the
total quantity of metals consistent with no undue risk. This number is derived
from the allowable pollutant concentration in the soil multiplied by the mass of
soil in the top 15 cm of a hectare of land.
2. The annual pollutant loading rate for organic pollutants (kg/ha/365 days) takes
into account the rate of pollutant loss or decay. A first order decay of organic
pollutants is assumed by the model--that is, that the quantity lost per year is
directly proportional to the quantity present. Assuming continued annual
applications, pollutant concentrations for organics gradually approach a plateau
at which the quantity lost each year equals the quantity applied. Therefore, the
annual pollutant loading rate is dcteimined such that the concentration levels off
at that allowable soil concentration when biosolids are applied for n long period
of time.

For human exposure pathways, maximum pollutant intake allowed was based on
several different EPA health effects criteria: reference dose (RtD), recommended
daily allowance (RDA), or concentration (RE) for noncarcinogens, a risk specific
90 Forste

dose for carcinogens based on a risk level for all use and disposal practices. A
daily dietaiy intake derived from a drinking water standard or a drinking water
standard (MCL). The only exception to this approach is Pathway 11 (inhalation)
which limits the pollutant concentration in the soil to an amount which will not exceed
the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health N O S H ) work place air
quality criteria ifsigmficant quantities of soil become airborne. This pathway was not
a limiting pathway for any pollutant in the final Regulations
Brief summaries of each of the pathways analyzed for the 503 Regulations are as

Pathway 1 - Evaluates liuniati exposure to crops grown with biosolids.

This pathway is designed to protect consumers who eat produce grown in a soil
to which biosolids have been applied. The environmental endpoint is an HE1
(highly exposed individual) assumed to live where a relatively high percentage
of the available cropland receives biosolids. It is assumed that the HE1 eats a mis
of crops from land where biosolids were applied and from land where this did not
occur. For Pathway 1,2.5 percent of a consumer's intake of grains, vegetables,
potatoes, legumes and garden fruits is assumed to come from biosolids-amended
soil. Pathway 1 assumes uptake of biosolids pollutants through plant roots, not
through direct adherence to crop surfaces as crops are assumed to be washed
before consumption. This pathway assumes agricultural use in commercial
enterprises where crops for human consumption are grown.
Pathway 1 also includes the exposure of a person in a non-agricultural setting
who ingests wild berries and mushrooms grown in biosolids amended soils.
Exposure is based on the uptake of a pollutant by each type of beny or
mushroom, a daily consumption of wild bemes and mushrooms, and a fraction
of diaerent wild berries and mushrooms grown in biosolids amended soil. Thc
HE1 for the non-agricultural Pathway 1 is an individual living where biosolids are
applied to a forest, a public contact site or reclamation site. The dose for this
pathway is the RfD for an inorganic pollutant; organics were not evaluated for
this pathway because they do not concentrate in wild berries and mushrooms.

Pathway 2 - Evaluates the situation it1 which biosolids are added to tlie soil in
a home garden.
Pathway 2 differs from Pathway 1 primarily in the fraction of food g-oups
produced on biosolids amended soil. For this pathway, as much as 60 percent of
the EIEI's diet of certain food groups is grown in the home garden where biosolids
are used as a fertilizer. Pathway 2's home gardener produces and consumes
potatoes, l e a vegetables, legume vegetables, root vegetables and garden fi-uits;
grains, cereals and peanuts are not included in these crops because home
gardeners do not usually consume such crops when they grow them on biosolids-
amended soils.
Regulatory Requirements 91

Pathway 3 -Assesses the hazard to a child ingesting undiluted biosolids.

This HE1 is the child who ingests biosolids from storage piles or from the soil
surface. Pathway 3 assumes that the biosolids are not diluted with soil when
exposure occurs. The ingestion rate of 0.2 grams (dry weight) per day for five
years was based on the 1989 EPA soil ingestion directive suggesting this value
for higher risk chldren. Pathway 3 uses the integrated uptake biokenetic model
(IUBK) rather than extrapolating from cattle data as had originally been
proposed. The IUBK model used a lead blood level not to exceed 10 micrograms
per deciliter, a 30 percent absorption value and a 95th-percentile population
distribution. Using these values in the IUBK model, results in an allowable
biosolids concentration of 500 parts per million (ppm). The lead pollutant limit
calculated by the peer review committee resulted from the observation that body
burdens (absorption) of animals fed up to 10 percent of their diet as biosolids did
not change until the lead concentration in the biosolids exceeded 300 ppm. EPA
therefore decided to select the more conservative numerical limit for the final rule
to minimize lead exposure to children and set the allowable lead concentration at
300 ppm for Pathway 3.

Pathway 4 - Evaluates huinan exposure from the consuinption of anitnal

The HE1 for this pathway consumes the tissue of foraging animals that have in
turn consumed feed crops or vegetation grown on biosolids amended soils.
Pathway 4 depends on plant uptake of a contaminant being proportional to soil
concentrationsof the contaminant with uptake occurring through the roots to the
edible portion or by volatilization from soil to above ground plant parts.
In the non-agricultural setting for Pathway 4, an individual consumes meat or
products from wild animals that consume plants grown in biosolids amended soils
(meat obtained from hunting herbivorous wild animals). For both agricultural
and non-agricultural Pathway 4 HEIs, a background pollutant intake is also

Pathway 5 - Evaluates the consumption of anitnal tissue which has been

containitiated by direct ingestion of biosolids by the animal.
The HE1 consumes the tissue of foraging animals that have incidentally ingested
biosolids. As with Pathway 4, the HE1 is assumed to consume daily quantities of
various animal-tissue food groups and is also assumed to be exposed to a
background intake of each pollutant.

Pathway 6 - Establishes level of pollutants in biosolids to protect aiiinials

ingesting plants grown on biosolids amended soils.
This pathway assumes the livestock diet is 100 percent forage grown on
biosolids amended soil and that the animal is exposed to a background pollutant
92 Forste

intake. For Pathway 6, when a sensitive species has been identified for a specific
pollutant, that species is used in the exposure assessment (e.g., livestock,
domestic grazing animals, birds and rodents).

Pathway 7 - Designed to protect the highly sensitivelhighly exposed herbivorous

livestock animal which incidentally consumes biosolids adhering to forage
crops and/or biosolids on the soil surface.
Pathway 7 assumes a 1.5 percent biosolids in the livestock diet and a
background pollutant intake for the animal, as well as the most sensitive species
for which data are available for each pollutant.

Pathway 8 - Evaluates the risk of plant toxiciyfiom pollutants i n biosolids.

EPA determined an allowable pollutant concentration in the soil that would be
associated with a low probability (I x lo‘) of a 50 percent reduction in young
plant growth (not necessarily a mature plant yield reduction). Since phytotoxicity
resulting from metals is sensitive to changes in pH, plant species and the degree
of binding capacity in the biosolids matrix, EPA elected to “cap“ at the 99th
percentile pollutant concentration from the NSSS for some metals.

Pathway 9 - Designed to assist in establishingpollutant loading litnits to protect

highly exposeahighly sensitive soil biota.
Since only limited field data exist which indicate levels at which inorganic
pollutants become toxic to soil biota, the database available for earthworms
which were raised in biosolids were used to set the criteria for this pathway.
These criteria are based on a No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) for
the earthworm Eisenia foetida.

Pathway 10 - Designed to assist in detemiining pollutant loading liriiits to

protect highly sensitive/highly exposed soil biota predators (i.e., sensitive
wildlye that consuiiies soil biota that have beenfeeding on biosolids-amended
A literature review identified what the Agency determined is a pollutant intake
level protective of sensitive species in general. Chronic exposure assumes the
sensitive species diet to consist of 33 percent of such soil biota.

Pathway 11 Evaluates liuiiian exposure to biosolids pollutants through
A tractor driver tilling the field is the HE1 for Pathway 1 1 which evaluates the
impact of suspended particles of dewatered biosolids. Pathway 1 1 assumes the
incorporation of biosolids to a depth of 15 cm and a distance from the driver to
the soil surface of 1 m with no more than 10 mglcubic meter (mglm’) of total
Regulatory Requirements 93

Pathway 12 - Designed to protect surface waters for benejkial use in order to

protect both human health and aquatic lfe.
The runoff of pollutants from soil on w h c h biosolids have been applied is
calculated so that the soil pollutant concentrations would not result in exceeding
a Water Quality Criterion for a pollutant if the soil enters a relatively small
stream. Rate of soil loss was based on the Universal Soil Loss Equation and a
sediment delivery ratio. Water Quality Criteria designed to protect human health
assume exposure through consumption of drinking water and resident fish and are
also designed to protect aquatic life.

Pathway 13 (Land Application) - Evaluates the exposure of a fann fami4

inhaling vapors of volatile pollutants that niay be in biosolids applied to the
Six pollutants were included in this pathway: benzo(a)pyrene, dis(2-
ethylhexyl)phthalate, chlordane, DDT, dimethylnitrosamine, polychlorinated
biphenyls. These pollutants were selected from EPA's hazard indices screen
because they are semi-volatile. Organic pollutants which are highly volatile were
not evaluated for Pathway 13 because such compounds would volatilize in the
wastewater treatment processes and were therefore not considered to be of
concern. Similarly, non-volatile metals were not evaluated in the vapor pathway.
The vapor pathway assumes that the total amount of the pollutant spread each
year would vaporize during that year. The allowable annual pollutant loading rate
is thus equal to the amount that may be allowed to enter the atmosphere per unit
area per unit time without exceeding the allowable pollutant concentration in the
air. This concentration corresponds to the R E , risk specific dose or an
acceptable daily dose derived from an MCL. A plume model was used to
determine the resultant pollutant concentration in the air with a never changing
wind direction so that the HE1 always remains in the center line of the plume.

Pathway 13 (Surface Disposal) - Evaluates the exposure of an individual

inhaling vapors of any volatile pollutants for a 70-year period.
The HE1 is assumed to live at the downwind edge of the site and to inhale air, at
20 cubic meters per day, for 70 years, contaminated with volatile organic
compounds from a surface disposal site. Volatilization rates were calculated with
equations that consider constituent parameters. Allowable lifetime exposure (at
a risk level of lo4) is the basis for back-calculating the allowable loss rate to the
vapor pathway. This value, divided by the fraction that vaporizes, provides the
allowable pollutant concentration at the site.
94 Forste

Pathway 13 (Incineration) - Evaluated exposure of an individual inhaling

particulates and gasesfi.oni an incinerator 24 hours per day, 365 days per year
f o r 70years.
This HE1 is located when the highest annual ground concentration of incinerator
emissions occurs. This pathway evaluated five metals (arsenic, cadmium,
chromium, lead and nickel) and approximately 70 organic compounds which are
represented by a surrogate measure of total hydrocarbons. Allowable metal
concentrations are calculated by determining the removal efficiency across the
incinerator and air pollution control devise site-specifically and considering the
feed rate to the system.

Pathway 14 (LandApplication) - Evaluated exposure of individuals obtaining

drinking water fioni groundwater directly below a j e l d where biosolids were
The allowable pollutant rate was determined from the MCL that must be met at
the groundwater interface with no allowance for dilution, the decay rate of a
pollutant and other factors that affect either the time period for decay or the
dispersion of the peak conccntration.

Pathway 14 (Surface Disposal) - Evaluated exposure of individuals who

obtained their drinking water from wells located 150 iiielers or less
downgradient, using eitherMCLs or iisk level of I x IQ'for an HEI consunling
two liters of water per day over a 70year lifetime.

Numerical limits were derived for both covered and uncovered suiface disposal
sites, considering pollutant losses through three processes: volatilization, on-site
degradation, and leaching.
Public comments and the scientific peer review of 503 resulted in changes in
many of the assumptions and data originally proposed for the exposure assessment
methodology. These changes resulted in more realistic exposure scenarios re1at'ive to
the use of biosolids which are land applied for agricultural purposes. A discussion of
the major comments, responses and actions taken by EPA are contained in the final
Part 503 Regulations and the Techrucal Support Document for Land Application. [ 141
These sources provide detailed information on the Agency's response to the significant
comments on the exposure pathways and the final action in the 503 Rule resulting
from the Agency's evaluation of such comments.

Domestic SeDtane
Many of the 130 commenters who provided input to the Agency on the proposed
regulations for septage, opposed the 1989 proposed limits as overly stringent,
burdensome and with little or no environmental benefit. As a result of these
comments, the Agency agreed that the regulation of septage in a manner similar to
Regulatory Requirements 95

biosolids would have been difficult to implement and therefore unlikely to achieve the
Agency's public health and environmental statutory objectives. Based on this
assessment, EPA developed an alternative regulatory strategy for septage which
replaced the 503 pollutant monitoring and cumulative pollutant loading limits used for
biosolids with a single hydraulic loading rate (30,000 gallons per acre per year). Thc
revised approach also requires short-term lime stabilization to control pathogcn and
vector attraction or site use and access restrictions in the absence of pH control. EPA
also simplified many of the monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements for
domestic septage.
The h a l rule on domestic septage contains limits on hydraulic loading based on
an average septage analysis to provide an estimated crop nitrogen rate. Short-teii
alkaline stabilization for septage may be achieved by raising the pH to 12 or greater
for 30 minutes. If alkaline stabilization is not possible and domestic septage is applied
to agricultural land, crops whose edible portions may contact the surrace soil and root
crops grown in the soil are prohibited for 14 and 38 months rcspectively following
septage application. In addition, for sites where potential for public exposure is high
(e.g., parks and recreational areas) public access must be restricted for 12 months
following application of domestic septage; whcre such potential esposure is low,
public access must be restricted for 30 days. Similarly, animals must not be allowed
to graze or feed crops harvested for 30 days. [ 151

C. Final Part 503 Standards

The standards contained in the final Part 503 Regulations consist of general
requirements, pollutant limits, management practices, operational standards
and requirements for frequency of monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting.
In the final regulation, EPA uses the term "land application" in a restrictive sense to
delineate clearly between different regulatory requirements. Since biosolids are
not only disposed on land, but in many cases also used to condition the soil or
provide nutrients, the Part 503 uses the phrase land application only when referring
to biosolids used for their beneficial properties. When biosolids are disposed of by
placing them on the land, Part 503 rcfers to this practice as "surface disposal."
Requirements for biosolids applied to the land differ for bulk material or that
soldgiven away in a bag or other container. The latter is used to distinguish situations
in which biosolids are typically applied in small amounts in a single application (e.g.,
home gardens) from those in which biosolids may be applied in large quantities ovcr
wide areas (e.g., agricultural and reclamation use) or bulk material. Many of the
requirements in the regulation apply to the "person who prepares" biosolids--referring
to the person or entity that effectively controls the quality of the biosolids or the
material derived therefrom that is ultimately either used or disposed. For esamplc, in
situations where a treatment works generates biosolids that are blended with othcr
96 Forste

substences, the person blending is the one who prepares the biosolids since he controls
the quality of the material that is ultimately used or disposed.
The final rule requires that any person who generates biosolids or derives a
material from biosolids, any person who applies biosolids to the land, any
ownedoperator of a surface disposal site, and any person who fires biosolids in an
incherator must maintain certain records. It also establishes reporting requirements
for Class I biosolids management facilities, publicly owned treatment works (POTWs)
with a design flow rate 2 1 million gallons per day, and POTWs that Serve 10,000
people or more.
The "surface dqmd"subpart (C) in thefinal regulations combines the originally
proposed subparts on monofills and surface disposal because differences between
theae two did not merit separate treatment, since in either case the material is placed
on the land for final disposal and may present essentially similar potential threats to
public health and the environment.
EPA also moved the subpart on removal credits fiom the final Part 503
Regulations to the general pretreatment regulations (40 CFR Part 403) since the
Agency believed tha! these lists of pollutants eligible for removal credit more logically
belonged with the pretreatment requirements.


Uae or Diapoepl Prnctke

Unlined' Linedb
Arsenic - - 100' -
AldrinlDie1cb-h(Total) 2.7 - - -
Benzane 16' 140 3400 -
-oopyrene 15 100' looc -

Bis(2-ethylhexyl)ate looo 100 I

cadmium - 100' l00C -

Chmmium - - 100' -
copper - 46' looC 1400

DDD, DDE, DDT (Total) 1.2 2000 2000 -

Regulatory Requirements 97

TABLE 2-2 (COW.)

Mermry - 100' lOOC I

Molybdenum - 40 40 -
Nickel - - 100s -
N-N- ' ylamine 2.1 0.088 0.088 -
Pentachlorophenol 30 - - -
Phenol I 82 82 -
Polychlorinated biphenyls 4.6 <50 <50 -
Selenium - 4.8 4.8 4.8

Toxaphene 10 26' 26' -

Trichloroethylene 1O C 9500 100 -
zinc - 4500 4500 4500
- -
Key: LA land application, SD surface disposal I - incineration
'Sewage sludge unit without a liner and leachate collection system
Sewage sludge unit with a liner and leachate collectionsystem
' Value expresd in grams per kilogram - dry weight basis.

Table 2-2 identifies pollutants by use or dqosal practice and a concentrationfor

each pollutant which was determined by the EPA not to pose an unreasonable risk to
public health and the environment if the concentration for those pollutants in the
bimlids are below the concentrationsgiven.[161 Pollutants were placed on this list
for one of two reasons. First, available data at the time the original list of pollutants
98 Forste

of concern for Part 503 was developed indicated that the existing concentrations of
pollutants in biosolids did not exceed those concentrations contained on the list in
Table 2-2. EPA also determined that at those concentrations the pollutants do not
pose a threat to public health and the environment at the highest levels detected.
Secondly, the pollutant was placed on the GI1 list shown in Table 2-2 if, after
determining a risk level, EPA decided not to regulate this pollutant in the final Part
503 Regulations. The concentration specified for those pollutants to be eligible for
removal credits are the concentrations developed during the risk assessment. These
pollutants are designated with an asterisk on the list in Table 2-2.
Based upon either low concentration or low risk as described above, a removal
credit is available for those pollutants with respect to the use/disposal of biosolids if
the concentration of the pollutant in the biosolids is less than or equal to the
concentration shown in Table 2-2 and if the treatment works complies the applicable
requirements in 40 CFR 403.7.
A POTW applying for removal credits must provide proof that the pollutant
concentrations in its biosolids do not exceed the pollutant concentrations shown in
Table 2-2. If subsequent monitoring reveals pollutant concentrations above those
levels or any more stringent level in the biosolids permit, the POTW is no longer
eligible for removal credit authority for that pollutant. Removal credit eligibility is
h t e d to those pollutants regulated specifically in Part 503 and to pollutants that the
Agency determines do not threaten public health and the environment as specified
The general provisions of Part SO3 establish standards for biosolids applied to the
land or disposed by surface disposal or incineration. The requirements for reducing
organisms in biosolids that cause disease (pathogens) are contained in Subpart D of
Part 503. Either Class A or Class B pathogen reduction requirements must be met
when biosolids are applied to the land or placed on a surface disposal site. In addition,
the regulations require reduction of vector attraction, that is, control of those
characteristics of biosolids that attract disease-spreading agents (e.g., flies or rats)
when applied to the land or placed on a surface disposal site. There are no pathogen
or vector atlraction reduction requirements for biosolids fired in an incinerator which
achieves such reduction during the incineration process.
For land application, the pollutant limits and management practices protect public
health and the environment from reasonably anticipated adverse affects of arsenic,
cadmum, chromium, copper, lead, mercuiy, molybdenum, nickel, selenium and zinc
in the biosolids. EPAevaluated the risks associated with organic pollutants and other
inorganic pollutants in biosolids and concluded that numerical pollutant limits for
these are not required for the reasons described in this chapter.
For surface disposal, the pollutant limits and management practices are
established to protect public health and the environment from the reasonably
anticipated adverse affects of arsenic, chromium and nickel in the biosolids. For
incineration, these limits and practices are based on arsenic, beryllium, cadmium,
Regulatory Requirements 99

chromium, lead, mercury and nickel in the biosolids. In addition, EPA established an
operational standard for biosolids incinerators that limit the total hydrocarbons (THC)
in the exit gas from a biosolids incinerator stack.
The recordkeeping requirements of the 503 Regulations specify who must
develop and retain information, what information must be developed and the length
of time such information must be kept. Section 405(f) of the CWA provides that
permits issued to a publicly owned treatment works or any treatment works treating
domestic sewage shall include conditions to implement the Part 503 Regulations
unless such are included in permits issued under other federal or approved state
programs. Thus,Part 503 requirements may be implemented through a CWA permit,
a Subtitle C Solid Waste Disposal Act Permit, a Part C Safe Drinking Water Act
Permit, a Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaiy Act Permit, a Clean Air Act
Permit, a permit under an approved state program or an EPA-issued "Sludge Only"
permit. However, it should be noted that the requirements in the Part 503 must be met
even in the absence of a permit, i.e., the Part 503 is self-implementing. Thus a
responsible person must become aware of the Part 503 standards, comply with them,
perform appropriate monitoring and recordkeeping and, if applicable, report
information to the permitting authority even when a permit is not issued. These
standards are also directly enforceable against any person who uses or disposes of
biosolids through any of the practices addressed in the final regulations. An
enforcement action can be taken against a person who does not meet those
requirements even in the absence of a peimit.
Relevant dates for the biosolids program are shown in Table 2-3.

Pollutants Selected for Regulation

Numerical limits in the 503 are imposed for 10 metals rather than the 28 inorganic and
organic pollutants contained in the proposed regulation. EPA's decision to select the
final 10 metals for regulation was based on analysis of information provided on the
proposed Rule and the data from the National Sewage Sludge Survey.
The Clean Water Act language requires EPA to develop standards on the basis
of available information on pollutant's toxicity, persistence, concentration, mobility or
potential for exposure. These criteria led to the original proposal of 28 pollutants,
however, the Agency deteimined for the final rule that some of these should not be
regulated, either because they are not present in biosolids, or, if present, the potential
for exposure and therefoi-ehealth or environmental risk is small.
EPA concluded that the concentrations of a pollutant do not pose a public health
or environmental risk if:

1. the pollutant is banned or restricted or no longer manufactured or used in

manufacturing a product
2. based on data from the NSSS the pollutant was not found in biosolids at
significant frequencies of detection
100 Forste


Publication of Part 503 at 58 FR 9248 February 19,1993

Publication of amendments to Sewage Sludge Permit Program February 19, 1993

regulations at 58 FR 9404

Effective date of Part 503 March 22,1993

Requirements for monitoring and recordkeeping under Part July 20, 1993
503 become effective (except for THC)

Compliance date for Part 503 requirements other than February 19,1994
monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting (where construction is
not required)

Rcquireinents for reporting under Part 503 become effective February 19,1994
(except for THC)

Limited permit application information due from sludge-only February 19,1994

facilities (not needing site-specific limits)

Date for closure of active sewage sludge units 1) located within March 22, 1994
GO meters of a fault that have displacement in Holocene time
(unless authorized by the permitting authority); 2) located in a
wetland (unless authorized under an NPDES permit); or 3)
located in an unstable area

Compliance date for Part 503 requirements other than February 19,1994
monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting (where construction is

Date when active sewage sludge unit owners/operators must 180 days prior to the
submit closure plans date the unit closes

Permit application information duc from facilities with NPDES At the time of the
pcrniits (not needing site-specific limits) next NPDES permit

Permit application information due from facilities who 180 days prior to the
commence operation after 2/19/93 date proposed for
Regulatory Requirements 101

3. the risk assessment for the pollutant shows no reasonably anticipated adverse
affects at the 99th percentile concentration found in biosolids as per the NSSS.

The NSSS was specifically designed to resolve data deficiencies which EPA
acknowledged existed in the information used to develop the proposed rule.
Based on the results of the survey and the status with respect to the production of
a pollutant, the above three criteria provide a reasonable certainty that numerical
pollutant limits are unnecessary. For example, if the pollutant is banned from
production, it is highly unlikely that it will be present in biosolids and there is no
consequent need to establish numerical limits. For a number of the banned and no
longer manufactured pesticides that EPA had proposed to regulate, examination of the
NSSS data confirmed that these pesticides were not present in today's biosolids.
Fourteen pollutants meet the criteria detailed above and are no longer regulated in the
Part 503 Rule:

DDT (and its derivatives DDD and DDE)
dimethyl nitrosamine
polychlorinated biphenyls

Details on the analysis used in deciding not to regulate are contained in Appendix
A of the Technical Support Document for Land Application.

m e g a t e Risk Assessment
EPA's aggregate risk assessment evaluated the "baseline" public health impacts of
biosolids use and disposal without the 503 Regulations, assessed the impacts after
implementation and established the difference between these two estimates as the
public health "benefit"of the final rule.
For the baseline estimates, EPA used a sample of plants from the NSSS and used
additional information on the plants from the questionnaire portion of the NSSS to
develop a profile of use and disposal practices across the country. The Agency also
102 Forste

used the data to assign pollutant concentrations under baseline conditions to treatment
plants in different categories.
Data describing cancer potency or other effects were used to develop measures
of individual risk. The results provided an aggregate determination of the likely
number of individuals experiencing each effect expected per year in the affected
populations as a result of biosolids. Details on the aggregate risk assessment are
contained in the Technical Support Document, "Human Health k s k Assessment for
the Use and Disposal of Sewage Sludge: Benefits of Regulation"[l7]. For land
application, EPA used average values for the pollution concentrations from facilities
practicing land application as deteimined by the NSSS. The mathematical models
contained in 503 were used to predict the transport of pollutants to groundwater and
ambient air for the baseline assessments. Additional modelling was used to predict
the uptake of pollutants from treated soil to agricultural crops and animal tissues and
to estimate contamination of surface water. Using average population densities, the
Agency established current human exposure to and risk from each pollutant in
biosolids through each relevant exposure pathway.
The final step in the assessment of current risks was to extrapolate results to the
national level based on the estimated number of facilities practicing land application
and the quantity of biosolids applied. The baseline assessment showcd a pre-503 risk
of less than one possible cancer case, 1000 possible cases of individuals who would
exceed a threshold lead concentration and 500 possible individuals experiencing lead
related effects. In no CRSC did the average exposure to the other inorganic
pollutants for which limits are included in the land application exceed the
reference dose for the pollutant during the baseline assessment.
The aggregate risk assessment & implementation of the final part 503 land
application regulations are: <1 possible cancer case, <I possible individual who
exceeds a blood lead level and 4 lead case. The results indicate that pre-503 use and
disposal practices for biosolids posed little risk to public health. Sufficient data were
not available for deteimining how the regulation would reduce human exposure and
risk from land application; therefore, benefits from regulating this practice range from
0 to 100 percent of the estimated baseline risks. Even though the estimated baseline
risks from all biosolids use and disposal practices combined were very low, the
aggregate risk analysis shows that the adoption of the final standards will further
ensure that these use and disposal practices will not jeopardize public health in the

Relationship to Other Requirements

As noted above, biosolids disposed in a municipal solid waste unit must meet the Part
258 requirements, and if uscd as a landfill cover, must be suitable for that purpose.
Even though thc final 503 Regulations do not have a stormwater requirement, the
CWA required that EPA, under its NPDES permit application requirements, control
stormwater associated with industrial activity. Thus, treatment works treating
Regulatory Requirements 103

domestic sewage or any device or system used in the storage, treatment, recycling and
reclamation of municipal or domestic sewage, including land dedicated to the disposal
of biosolids that are located within the confines of the facility with a design flow of 1.O
MGD or more or required to have an approved pretreatment program under 40 CFR
Part 503, must control stormwater. Specifically not included are farm lands, domestic
gardens or land used for a beneficial use of biosolids which are not physically located
within the facility. For this category, EPA viewed fac es such as large treatment
works that may experience spills and bubbleovers (e.g., on-site composting and
chemical storage) as suitable candidates for stormwater permits. Such activities are
considered to be more akin to industrial activity in scope and size and hence should
be required to obtain an NPDES permit for stormwater discharges.
The 503 Regulations do not establish requirements for the specific treatment of
biosolids except for properties (other than chemical composition) that may pose a
threat to public health and the environment. Therefore, requirements to reduce
pathogens and vector attraction are provided while processes used to prepare biosolids
for final use or disposal (e.g., composting) are not subject to the 503 standards.
The pathogen requirements of Part 503 are not risk-based but are pei-fomiance
standards based on the demonstrated ability of treatment processes to reduce
pathogens. Such requirements include raising the temperature of the biosolids and
maintaining that temperature for a specific period of time.
While EPA encourages the beneficial use of biosolids through such practices as
land application, the specific use or disposal practice selected by a municipality or
authority responsible for biosolids remains a local determination and responsibility.
Therefore, the Part 503 does not establish requirements for the selection of a use or
disposal practice.
The Part 503 Regulations do not establish requirements for use or disposal of
biosolids from an industrial facility which treats industrial wastewater because those
materials are not biosolids which are generated during the treatment of donicslic
sewage in a treatment works. If industrial wastewater solids are disposed on the land,
the requirements of 40 CFR Pait 257 must be met. The 1987 Water Quality Act
included under Section 405(d) industrial manufacturing and private processing
es that treat domestic sewage combined with industrial wastewater. During the
development of the Part 503, insufficient time was available to develop standards for
use or disposal ofwastewater solids generated at such facilities. In addition, EPA did
not have sufficient information on the number of such facilities, the amount of solids
generated at them and the practices through which the solids are used or disposed in
order to evaluate the impact of the Part 503 numerical standards. The Agency also
questioned whether the models and data used to develop the numerical limits in 503
are appropriate for industrial wastewater solids which also have a domestic scwage
component. For these reasons, the Part 503 does not establish requirements for the
use or disposal of biosolids generated at an industrial facility during the treatment of
industrial wastewater combined with domestic sewage. Such materials may be
104 Forste

considered in future revisions to the Part 503. It should be noted however that the Part
503 Regulations do apply to biosolids generated at an industrial facility during the
treatment of only domestic sewage, that is, without combining the domestic sewage
with industrial wastewater. Thus all industrial wastewater treatment facilities that treat
domestic sewage, whether generated on site or off site, are considered Treatment
Works Treating Domestic Sewage and may be required to apply for a permit under 40
CFR 122.21.
The Part 503 Regulations do not establish requirements for wastewater solids
determined to be hazardous; these materials must be used or disposed under the
,applicable requirements of 40 CFR Parts 260 through 268. Biosolids having a
concentration of polychlorinated biphenols 3 50 mgkg of total solids (dry weight)
must be used or disposed in accordance with the requirements of 40 CFR Part 76 I ,
not the Part 503 requirements. Ash from incinerated biosolids also are not subject to
the Part 503 but must be used or disposed in accordance with the appropriate
requirement (e.g.,40 CFR Part 257 when disposed on the land). Wastewater grit and
screenings are not subject to the Part 503 Regulations as they have completely
different characteristics than biosolids and must be disposed in accordance with
appropriaterequirements (e.g., 40 CFR Part 257 when disposed on the land). Solids
generated from the processes which produce drinking water also are not subject to
Part 503 since they are not generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a
treatment works. Since the characteristics of domestic septage and the characteristics
ofcommercial septage (e.g., grease from a grease trap at a restaurant) and industrial
septage (e.g., from a septic tank or similar treatment works that receives industrial
wastewater) are different, the Part 503 requirements for domestic septage do not apply
to commercial or industrial septage and these are excluded from the Part 503

Requirements for a Person Who Premres Biosolids

When biosolids are prepared to be applied to the land, placed in a surface disposal site
or incinerated, the person who performs such preparation must meet the applicable
requirements in the Part 503. This preparer could be the person who generates
biosolids during the treatment of domestic wastewater or a person who derives a
material derived fiom biosolids. The latter would include, for example, a person that
blends biosolids with some other material or a private contractor who receives
biosolids from a treatment works and then blends the biosolids with some other
material (e.g., a bulking agent). When biosolids are part of any material, the person
"derived" the material fiom biosolids and similarly any time the quality of the biosolids
is changed, a "material" is derived from those biosolids.
Although not explicitly defincd in the 503 Regulations, biosolids which meet a
Class A pathogen reduction requirement, an appropriate vector attraction reduction
requirement and contain metals concentrations below those in 503.13(b)(3) (pollutant
concentration limits) are not subject to any further regulatory requirements of 503
Regulatory Requirements 105

beyond monitoring and reporting to establish conformance with the three requirements
specified above. Thus, a person who blends such biosolids is not subject to any
further regulatoly requirements, including monitoring and reporting. This distinction
is especially important for products (e.g., heat-dried biosolids) which are often sold
to a dealer who then blends the biosolids with some other material for sale to the

Pollutant Limits
Based on numerous comments on both the 1989 proposed and the 1990 NSSS, EPA
concurred with the view that protection of public health and the environment allowed
for the development of standards for biosolids that receives minimal regulation as a
result of meeting certain quality requirements. Such materials may either meet Class
A pathogen reduction requirements and be subject to no fi.uther federal regulation, or
meet Class B pathogen reduction requirements and be required to conform to the
general requirements and management practices for land application.
The numerical s t a n h d s for biosolids not subject to cumulative pollutant loading
limits result from the loading rates for inorganic pollutants (i.e. trace or "heavy"
metals) through the various exposure assessment pathways described above. EI'A
derived the pollutant concentrations in such materials from calculations using the
already established cumulative pollutant loadings and applying certain conservative
assumptions to back calculate to a pollutant concentration. Maximum metal
concentrationsfor such biosolids are shown in Table 2-4 (Table 3 of 6 503.13). Since
pollutant concentrations are based on the cumulative pollutant loading rates and
include the same conservative safety factors, they provide the same degree of
protection to human health and the environment as is provided by the cumulative
pollutant loading rates.
For the final rule, the cumulative pollutant loading rate was converted to an
annual pollutant loading rate by assuming that the entire load for the pollutant was
applied in one year, which EPA believes is a conservative assumption and unlikely to
occur. Annual pollutant loading rates were then converted to pollutant concentrations
using the following equation:

C' APLR xo.001 .......................


Where: C = pollutant concentration in m g k g (dry weight)

APLR = annual pollutant loading rate in kg/hectare/365 day period (diy
AWSAR = annual whole sludge application rate in metric tonshectare/
365 day period (dry weight)
0.00 1 = conversion factor
106 Forste

EPA assumed that the AWSAR used in this equation is 10 dry metric
tonshectare/year for 100 consecutive years. EPA believes that a pollutant
concentration derived fiom h s equation is conservative because it is unlikely that any
one site will receive 10 metric tons of biosoliddhectarehjear for 100 consecutive
years. It is also unlikely that nutrient-based (agronomic) application rates for
agricultural land will require such annual application rates for 100 consecutive years.


%Biosolidsmeeting these pollutant concentration lintits are not required to

be tracked with respect to cuinirlative loadings on sites where they are
applied to land.

If biosolids meet the pollutant concentrations calculated using the above

equation, the more stringent Class A pathogen reduction requirements and one of eight
vector attraction requirements in the final 503 Rule, the general requirements and
management practices for land application do not apply if such biosolids are applied
to the land. However, minimum frequency for monitoring, recordkeeping and
reporting however do apply since the EPA needs to have information to determine that
Regulatory Requirements 107

the 503 quality requirements are being met. This reduction of general requirements
and management practices applies both to bulk biosolids applied to the land and to
biwlids sold or given away in bag or similar container. It also applies to a material
derived ffom biosolids if that material is derived fiom a biosolids that does not meet
the three q d t y requirements.

Land AvDlication
The 503 Regulations recognize two broad categories of biosolids applied to the land
and establish requirementsfor each. For both categories,biosolids must meet metal
ceiling concentrations, otherwisethey cannot be applied to the land. The first broad
categq is bulk biosolids applied to the land, that is, biosolids that are not sold or
given away in a bag or other container. These biosolids must meet either pollutant
concentration limits or the amount of the pollutant applied to the land in the bulk
biosolids must not exceed a cumulative pollutant loading rate. The ceiling limits,
cumulative pollutant loading rates and annual pollutant loading rates are shown in
Table 2-5 (Metal Concentrations and Allowable Loadmg Rates). In addition,
pathogen and vector attraction reduction requirements must be met for bulk biosolids
applied to the land and general requirements and manageme$ practices may have to
be met depending on the degree of treatment for pathogen reduction of the bulk
For the second broad categq--biilida sold or given away in a bag or other
container for application to the land--oneof two pollutant limits also must be met.
The biosolids must meet the pollutant concentrations in Table 2-4 for bulk biosolids
or the amount of a pollutant applied to the land annually must not be exceeded in an
annualpollutant loading rate (Table 2-5). Annual pollutant loading rates are used to
calculate the application rate specified on a label on the bag or other container. This
rate cannot be exceeded and is based on EPA's estimation of 20 annual applications
for biwlids combined with the cumulative pollutant loading limits (the CPLR + 20).
The annual rate is for the whole biosolids, not just for a single pollutant, although one
such pollutant will govern the annual rate. In addition, these biosolids must meet the
highest quality (Class A) pathogen reduction requirements and a vector attraction
reduction requirement. Depending on quality, such biosolids may also be subject to
' general requirements and a management practice.

The general requiranentSand management practices for biosolids are contained

in Figures 2-2 and 2-3. The land application requirements apply to any person who
prepares biwlids that are applied to the land, any person who applies biosolids to the
land, to the biosolids applied to the land, and to the land on which biosolids are
Pollutant Ceiling Cumulative Annual Pollutant
Concentretion* Pollutant Loading Rates
Pollutant (ww Loading Rates WLR)
(Pc) (CpLR)

@@la) Wac) (kglhalyr) (Ib/ar/yr)

Nickel 420 420 375 21 19

Selenium 100 100 89 5 4.5

Zinc 7,500 2,800 2,500 140 125

~ ~

'Asper§ 503.13, Table I , 2 and 4.

' Wastewaterbiosolicis or biosolids-derivedproductsthat are to be land-applied, used
for reclamation purposes, or distributed and marketed must meet these criteria at a
' Molybdenum limits (other than ceiling concenb-ations)have been remmedfiom the
503 Regulationspending re-evaluation of scientific data and re-proposal.
Regulatory Requirements 109

For Bioaolidn Meeting 503.13@)3,50332(n) Additional Requirement. for CPLR Biosolidr

and one of 50333@)(1) through @)@) The applier must not@ the permittingauthority
None (unless set by EPA or State permittmg in the State where bulk biosolids are to be applied
authority on a CBsebyCBsebasis for bulk prior to the initial applicationof the biosolids.
biosolids to p t e c t public health and the This is a onetime notice requirementfor each
environment). land applicationsite each time there is a new
applier. The notice must include:
For PC and CPLR B l m U + the location (either street address or latitude
Theprepma. must not@ and provide and longitude)of the land applicationsite;
informationnecessBty to comply with the Part and
503 land applicationrequirementstotheperson 0 the name, addreaq telephone number, and
who applies bulk biosolids to the land NPDES permit number ( ifapproPriate)of
The prepare who provides biosolids to awther the person who will apply the bulk biosolids.
persoa who further prepares the biosolids for The applier must obtain records (if available)
applicationto the land must provide this person h m the previous applier, landowner, or
with notification and informationnecessary to pennittingauthoritythatindicatatheamountof
comply with the Part SO3 land application each CPLR pollutant in biosolids thathave been
reqUirlXllentS. applied to the site since July 20, 1993. In
Theprepara must provide written notification addition:
of the total nitrogenCOncenMion (as N on a dry- + when these records are available,the upplier
weight basis) in bulk biosolids to the applier of
the biosolids to agricultural land, forests, public additionalamount of each pollutant that can
oontact sites, or reclamation sites. be applied to the site in Bcoordatlcewith the
The upplier of biosolids must obtain CPLRS in Table 2-5;
infomtion 7to comply with the Part + the upplier must keep the previous records
SO3 land applicatronrequirementS, apply and also record the additionalamount of
biosolids to the land in BEcordance with the Part each pollutanthe or she b applying to the
503 land application requirements, and provide dte; and
notice and necess~lyinformationto the owner a when records ofpast known CPLR
leaseholder of the land on ~ c biosolids
h are applicationssince July 20,1993,arenot
applied. available,biosolids subjectto CPLRs cannot
be applied to that site.
out of state use Ifbiosolids meeting CPLRs have not been
Thepreparermustprovidewittennotification applied to the site in excess of the l i t since July
(pior to the initial applicationof the bulk 20,1993,the CPLR limit for each pollutant in
biosolids by the applier) to the permitling Table 2-5 will determine the maximum amount
authority in the State where biosolids are of each pollutant that can be applied in biosolids
pFoposedto be land applied when bulk biosolids E
aro gonerated inoae state andtranaferredto + all applicablemanagement practices are
~ 0 t Stateh ~for applicationto the land The followed, and
notificationmust include: + the applier keeps a record of the amount of
' the location (either street address or latitude
and longitude) of each land applicationsite;
each pollutant in biosolids applied to any
given site.
~+ theapproltimatetimeperiodthebulk The applier must not apply additional biosolid
biosolids will be applied to the site; under the cumulativepollutant loading c4mcept tc
+ the name, addaess,telephone number, and a site whem any of the CPLRs have beenreached
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES) number for both the * The preparer is either the person who g p
preparer and the applier of the bulk the biosolids or the person who derivesa matend
biosolids; and &ombiosolids.
0 a&iitionalinformationorpermitsinboth
Statea,.ifrequired by the permitting


REQUIREMENTS, Source: U.S. €PA. A Plain English Guide
to The €PA Part 503 Biosolids Rule. EPA/8324?-93/003.
September 1994
110 Forst e

For Biosolids Meeting 503.13(b)3,503.32(a) and one of 503.33(b)(l) through (b)(8)

None (unless established by EPA or the State perniitting authority on a ease-by-case basis
for bulk biosolids to protect public health and the environment).

For PC (Pollutant Concentration) and CPLR (Cumulative Pollutant Loading

Rate) Biosolids
These types of biosolids cannot be applied to flooded, frozen, or snow-covered
agricultural land, forests, public contact sites, or reclamation sites in such a way that tlic
biosolids enter a wetland or other waters of the United States (as defined in 40 CFR Part
122.2, which generally includes tidal waters, interstate and intrastate watcrs, tributaries,
tlie territorial sea, and wetlands adjaccnt to tlicse waters), cxccpt as providcd in a periiiit
issued pursuant to Section 402 (NPDES perinit) or Scction 404 (Dredge and Fill Pcrniit)
of the Clean Water Act, as anieiidcd.
These types of biosolids cannot bc applicd to agricultural land, forests, or reclaination
sitcs that arc 10 nicters or less froin U S . waters, unless otherwise specificd by tlie
permitting authority.
If applied to agricultural lands, forests, or public contact sites, these typcs of biosolids
must be applied at a rate that is equal to or less than the agronomic rate for nitrogen for
the crop to be grown. Biosolids applied to reclamation sites may exceed the agronomic
rate for nitrogen as specified by tlie permitting authority.
These types of biosolids must not harm or contribute to the harm of a threatened or
ciidangered species or rcsult in the dcstruction or adverse modification of the spccics'
critical habitat when applied to the lant. Thrcatencd or endangered species and their
critical habitats are listed in Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act. Critical habitat is
defined as any placc where a Ilircatcncd or ciidangered species lives and grows during
any stage of its life cycle. Aiiy dircct or indirect action (or the rcsult of any dircct or
indirect action) in a critical habitat that diminishes the likelihood of survival and recovery
of a listed species is considered destructionor adverse modification of a critical habitat.

For APLR (Annual Pollutant Loading Rate) Biosolids

A label must be affixed to the bag or other container, or an infonnation sheet must be
provided to tlie person who receives APLR biosolids in other containers. At a minimum,
the label or information shcct must contain tlie following information:
+ the name and address of the person who prcpared the biosolids for sale or
giveaway in a bag or othcr contaiiicr;
+ a statement that prohibits application of the biosolids to the land except in
accordance with tlie iiistructions on the label or information sheet;
+ an AWSAR (see Figure 2-6) for tlic biosolids that do not cause tlic APLRs to be
exceeded; and
+ the nitrogen content.
Source: US.EPA. A Plairi English Guide to The EPA Part 503 BiosolidsRule.
EPA/832/R-93/003.Septenr ber I994
Regula tory Requirements 111

For land application, there are instances in which not all the requirements must be
met to comply with the standards:

If the biosolids or material derived therefi-om meets certain pollutant limits (see
Table 2-4) and operational standards for pathogen and vector attraction reduction
as well as fiequency of monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting for land application,
the general requirements and management practices do not apply if these three
quality requirements are met.

For a bulk material derived from biosolids, the land application subpart
requirements do not apply when the derived material meets the pollutant
concentrations in 503.13(b)(3), the Class A pathogen reduction requirements in
503.32(a) and one of the vector attraction reduction requirements in 503.33(b)( 1)
through 503.33(b)(8). In this case, the biosolids used to produce the bulk matcrial
already meets the three quality requirements.

In the fust instances cited above, an EPA Regional Administrator or a state dircctor
in a state with an approved management program may require that any or all of the
general requirements or management practices be met on a case-by-case basis, even
when the biosolids or bulk material derived therefrom meets the three quality
requirements, if found that these are needed to protect public health and the
environment from any reasonably anticipated adverse effect of a pollutant in the
biosolids. The final Part 503 Regulations do not authorize the EPA Regional
Administrator or the state dircctor to impose the general requirements and
management practices on a bulk material derived frJm a biosolids that already meets
the three quality requirements. Because the 503 requirements do not apply to
biosolids used to make that material once it has met the identified quality
requirements, no records have to be kept on who receives those biosolids or what
happens to them after the thrce quality requirements are met.
For biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other container, the general
requirements and management practices do not apply when the biosolids or material
derived therefrom meet the three criteria dcscribed above. However, monitoring,
recordkeeping and reporting requirements do apply to such biosolids derived material.
Ceiling concentrations are included in the Part 503 to address EPA's concein about
the potential impact of a "dirty" biosolids on public health and the environment. They
are the less stringent of two values: the cumulative pollutant loading rate from the
land application exposure assessment and assumed 100 year site life at an assumed
annual application rate of 10 metric tonshectare the 99th percentile concentration
fiom the National Sewage Sludge Suvey, whichever is less stringent. EPA concluded
that when pollutant concentrations in biosolids do not exceed the ceiling
concentrations, the potential for short term impacts on the environment from land
application are greatly reduced.
Two pollutant limits for bulk biosolids applied to the land are contained in the Part
503. The first limit consists of cumulative pollutant loading rates in 503.13(b)(2) (see
112 Forste

Table 2-5). The cumulative loading rate is the total amount of an inorganic pollutant
that can be applied to an area of land. Cumulative pollutant loading rates must be met
when bulk biosolids that do not meet the pollutant concentrations contained in
503.13@)(3). To comply with this requirement, the amount of each pollutant in the
bulk biosolids must be known, records must be kept of the amount of each pollutant
applied to each site. When the cumulative pollutant loading limit for any of the
pollutants in Table 2-5 is reached for a site, no more bulk biosolids may be applied to
that site. The ceiling concentrations and cumulative pollutant loading rates must be
met when bulk biosolids are applied to agricultural land, forests, a public contact site
or a reclamation site.
Equation (2-1) can be used to estimate site life for bulk biosolids with a particular
quality and for a certain Annual Whole Sludge Application Rate (AWSAR) when the
cumulative pollutant loading rates are met. When either the quality of the bulk
biosolids or the AWSAR changes, the site life for the land also changes. In order to
use this equation, the concentrations of the regulated metals must be determined on a
dry weight basis and the AWSAR determined-- usually based on a selected agronomic
rate. The Annual Pollutant Loading Rate (APLR) may be calculated as follows:

APLR = C x AWSAR x 0.001 .................... (2-2)


APLR = Annual Pollutant Loading Rate for an inorganic pollutant in kilograms of

pollutant per hectare per 365 day period
C= measured pollutant concentration in milligrams of pollutant per kilogram
of total solids
AWSAR = Annual Whole Sludge Application Rate in metric tons per hectare per
365 day period
0.001 = a conversion factor

The years an inorganic pollutant can be applied to the land is calculated by dividing
the cumulative pollutant loading rate (CPLR) by the APLR calculated in accordance
with equation (2-1). The lowest number of years calculated in this manner is the
period that this bulk biosolids can be applied to the land without causing any of the
cumulative pollutant loading rates to be exceeded, This calculation is used only to
estimate the number of years biosolids can be applied to a site; when the pollutant
concentrations change or when the AWSAR changes, this estimate will also change.
Regulatory Requirements 113

Step 1 - Pollutant concentrations in bulk biosolids (dry weight basis):


- Step 2 - Assume thc annual whole sludge application rate for the bulk sewage
sludge is 10 MThd36.5 day period base on agronomic requirements.
Step 3 - Calculate the annual pollutant loading rates for the pollutants using
equation (2-2):


Zinc 1201 12.00

114 Forste


Pollutant (kgW OCghdyr) (CPLWAPLR)
Arsenic 41 0.10 410

Cadmium 39 0.07 557

chromium 3000 8.5 353

Copper 1500 7.4 202

Lead 300 3.50 85

Mercuiy 17 0.05 340
Molybdenum 18 0.09 200

Nickel 420 0.42 1000

Selenium I 100 I 0.05 I 2000 I

Zinc I 2800 I 12.0 I 233 I

Step 5 - Determine the lowest number of years calculated in Step 4

For this example, the lowest number of years is 85 for lead. Bulk sewage sludge
with the inorganic pollutant concentrations given in Step 1 of this procedure can be
applied to the land at an AWSAR of 10 M T h a for 85 years. After that period, the
cumulative pollutant loading rate for lead is exceeded.
To develop the pollutant concentrations in Tabre 2-5, the cumulative loading rates
were converted to annual pollutant loading rates and the calculated annual pollutant
loading rates and an assumed AWSAR were used by EPA in Equation (2-1) to
calculate a pollutant concentration (C = APLR f AWSAR x 0.001).
The pollutant concentrations calculated using the equation (2- 1) were compared to
the 99th percentile concentration values for these pollutants from the NSSS. Thus the
pollutant concentration limits in Table 2-4 are either the concentration calculated
using this equation or the 99th percentile concentration, whichever is more stringent.
To convert the cumulative pollutant loading rates to annual pollutant loading rates,
EPA assumed that the life of the sitc where biosolids are applied is 100 years and that
the AWSAR is 10 metric tons/hectare/year based on an estimated agronomic rate.
Regulatory Requirements 115

Because the pollutant concentrations shown in Table 2-4 are based on conservative
(100 year) site lives and typical AWSARs, the Agency concluded that records do not
have to be kept of the amount of each inorganic pollutant in biosolids applied to a site.
The pollutant concentrations are monthly average concentrations which may not be
exceeded in bulk biosolids in order to be exempt from the recordkeeping requirement.
EPA's use of the 99th percentile "cap" has been the subject of litigation. A
unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on
November 15,1994 remanded to EPA the limits or caps on chromium and selenium.
The Court rejected EPA's reliance on the National Sewage Sludge Survey for
establishing the parameters by determining what limits could be met by 99% of the
POTSs responding to the survey, stating that the 99th percentile caps are not related
to risk. The 3,000 mgkg maximum loading for chromim and the 100 m a g cap for
selenium were rejected because EPA had failed to meet the statutory burden of
assessing the risk to public health and the environment. EPA will have to redetermine
those caps as mandated by the Court.
The Court also found EPA had failed to establish a rational relationship between the
assumed application of all the covered pollutants, including those that are risk-based,
in liquid biosolids and the actual usage of heat-dried biosolids. This part of the
regulation was also remanded to EPA either to just@ its assumptions or to provide
more tailored caps.
Since no risk-based chromium limit can be established based on available field data
(which show no adverse effects from chromium) it is likely that chromium will be
deleted fi-om the 503 Regulations. It is also expected that the Agency will reevaluate
and impose risk-based limits on selenium.
For biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other container which do not meet the
pollutant limits but are below the ceiling concentrations, annual pollutant loading rates
must be met as shown in Table 2-5. These annual pollutant loading rates assume a
cumulative pollutant loading rate to be reached in 20 years. That is, an assumed site
life of 20 years. EPA concluded that 20 years is a conservative assumption because
most biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other container will be applied to a lawn,
a home garden or public contact site which EPA believes are unlikely to receive
biosolids for longer than 20 years, particularly 20 consecutive years. These annual
pollutant loading rates for "bag or other container" biosolids are also being challenged
and may be deleted from Part 503 if that challenge is upheld.

Domestic Septage
A separate pollutant limit is contained in the 503 Regulations for domestic septage
applied to agricultural land, forest or a reclamation site. This annual application rate
is based on an estimate of the amount of nitrogen needed by the crop grown on the
application site by the following equation:
116 Forste

N ' ANC x AAR x 8.34 ..................... .(2-3)

N= pounds of nitrogen needed by the crop per acre per 365 day period
ANC = available nitrogen concentration in milligrams per liter
AAR = annual application rate in million gallons per acre per year
8.34 = a conversion factor

Solving for the annual application rate as follows:

AAR' ................................ (2-4)
ANC x 8.34

The 503 Regulations require that the allowable annual application rate be
calculated using the following equation, which is equation (2-4) with a value
substituted for ANC x 8.34:

AAR' ................................ (2-5)

In tlus equation, 0.0026 is the product of an available nitrogen concentration and

the conversion factor 8.34/1 million. This concentration was calculated using values
for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) and ammonia-N in domestic septage from nine
samples collected in Madison, Wisconsin. Tk available nitrogen concentrations were
calculated assuming that:

5 domestic septage is applied to the site every year

0. domestic septage is injected below the land surface
*a none of the ammonia-N in the domestic septage is lost through volatilization
00 most of the organic nitrogen (TKN minus ammonia) in domestic septage
becomes available over a three year period (50,20 and 10 percent in years 1 , 2
and 3 respectively)
00 "steady state" conditions with respect to available nitrogen are achieved in the
third year after application of domestic septage
Regulatory Requirements 117

EPA allowed the annual application rate for domestic septage to be used only
when it is applied to agricultural land, forests or a reclamation site because site
restrictions are imposed on such sites. EPA assumed that the applier has control over
the application site. Because of the difficulty of imposing site restrictions on a public
contact site, lawn or home garden application of domestic septage to such site an
annual application rate is prohibited under 503.


Biosolids applied to agricultural land, forest, public contact sites or reclamation sites
must meet either Class A or Class B pathogen reduction requirements.
Class A biosolids are essentially pathogen free; Class B biosolids have reduced
levels of pathogens, and are subject to use restrictions to prevent immediate and direct
public contact.

Class A Pathopen Reduction Requirements

The implicit objective of all Class A requirements is to reduce pathogen densities to

below detectable limits which are:

*a Salmonella sp. : Less than 3 MI" per 4 grams of total solids (TS), dry
weight basis.
0- Enteric viruses: Less than 1 PFU per 4 grams of TS, dry weight basis.
0. Viable helminth ova: Less than 1 per 4 grams of TS, dry weight basis.

The above-referenced requirements define microbiological "cleanliness" of Class A

biosolids. Six alternatives are established for Class A. Any of these alternatives may
be met for biosolids to be Class A with respect to pathogens. These alteinative
requirements are described below and summarized in Table 2-6.

Alternative 1: Thermallv Treated Biosolids [503.32(a)(3)]

For pathogen reduction, microbiological requirements time-temperature
requirements must be met. Four time-temperature regimes are specified based on
percent of total solids and operating parameters.

Alternative 2: Biosolids Treated bv Alkaline Materials [503.32(a)(4)]

Elevating and maintaining a certain pH level for certain time (pH-time requirements)
and air drying to certain level of dryness. No microbiological limits are established.
118 Forste


Process Requirements

Either F. colifomi or

No option to substitute
Uilknown Either F. colifonn or Yes2 yes3 operational monitoring for
Processes Salmonelia' microbiological monitoring.

PFKP Either F. colifomi or Seven PFRP processes listed in

Processes Salmonella' No No /Appendix B, Part 503.

Either F. colifonn or
equivalent No No Process equivalent to PFRP.

Notes: ' -the density of fecal colifonn must be less than 1,000 MPN per gram of total
solids (dry weidit basis) oLthe density of Salmonella sp. bacteria must be less than 3
MPN per 4 grams of total solids (dry weight basis).
hi addition to requiretnaitsin 1. above, the density of enteric viruses must be less than
1 PFU per 4 grams oftotal solids (dry weight basis).
In addition to rquiremcnts in I. and 2. above, the density of viable helminth ova must
be less than 1 per 4 grams of total solids (dry weight basis).

Alternative 3: Biosolids Treated in Other Processes [503.32(a)(5)]

This alternative requires comprehensive monitoring of bacteria, enteric viruses and
viable helminth ova. If a process has been proven to meet microbiological limits,
monitoring operating paranicters can be used instead of microbiological monitoring.

Alternative 4: Biosolids Treated in Unknown Processes [503.32(a)(6)]

This Alternative is similar to Alternative 3, but with no option to substitute
operational monitoring for microbiological monitoring.
Regulatory Requirements 119

Alternative 5: Use of PFRP [503.32(a)(7)]

Biosolids must be treated in one of the seven (7) specified Processes to Further
Reduce Pathogens (PFRP) listed in Appendix €3 of the 503 Regulations (see Table
2-7) & comply with microbiological limits.

Alternative 6: Use of a Process Eauivalent to PFRP [503.32(a)(8)]

Any process determined by the EPA's Pathogen Equivalency Committee (PEC) to be
equivalent to a PFRP compliance with microbiological limits. Several processes
have already (1994) been recommended as equivalent to Class A.

In addition, it is required that:

( I ) Pathogen reduction be accomplished before or at the same time as vector

attraction reduction except for alkaline treatment and drying.
(2) Certain microbiological limits be monitored to detect regrowth at the time of use
or disposal, or when biosolids are prepared for sale/give-away [503,32(a)(3)-

Class B Pathogen Reduction Requirements

Class B requirements can be met by any of the three alternatives shown below. The
implicit objective of all three altematives is to ensure that pathogenic bacteria and
enteric v i ~ are
w adequately reduced in density (as demonstrated by fecal colifoim
density in Class B biosolids of less than 2 million MPN or CFU per gram of total
solids on dry weight basis). Viable h e h t h ova are not necessarily reduced in Class
B biosolids. Additionally, site restrictions are applied which restrict crop harvesting,
animal grazing and public access for a certain period of time until environmental
factors have further reduced pathogens.
The Class B requirements apply to bulk biosolids that are applied to agricultural
land, a forest, a public contact site, a reclamation site or a surface disposal site,
unless, in the latter case, biosolids are covered at the end of each operating day.

Alternative 1 : Monitoring of Fecal Colifonn [503.32@)(2)]

This alternative requires that seven samples of treated biosolids be collected at the
time of use or disposal and the geometric mean fecal colifom density of these
samples be less than 2 million CFU or ME" per gram of total solids (dry weight

Alternative 2: Use of PSRP [503.32@)(3)]

Biosolids must be treated in one of the five (5) Processes to Significantly Reduce
Pathogens (PSRP) listed in Appendix B of the 503 Regulations (see Table 2-7). No
microbiological monitoring is required.
120 Forste

Alternative 3: Use of Processes Eauivalent to PSRP [503.32@)(4)]

Any process detennined by the EPA's Pathogen Equivalency Committee (PEC) to be
equivalent to PSRP. Several processes have already (1 994) been recommended as


Processes to Further Reduce Pathogens Processes to Signiflcnntly Reduce

(PFRPs) Pathogens (PSRPs)

1. Composting 1. Aerobic Digestion

Using either the within-vessel coniposting Biosolids are agitated with air or oxygen
method or the static aerated pile coniposting to maintain aerobic conditions for a
method, the temperature of the biosolids is specific mean cell residence time (i.e.,
maintained at SSEC (131EF) or higher for 3 solids retention time) at a specific
day;. temperature. Values for the mean cell
residence time and temperature shall be
Using the windrow composting method, the between 40 days at 20EC (68EF)and 60
temperature of the biosolids is maintained at days at l5EC (59EF).
55EC (131EF) or higher for I5 days or longer.
During the period when the compost is
maintained at 55EC (131EF) or higher, there
shall be a minimum of five turnings of the

2. HeatDryIng 2. AlrDrying
Biosolids are dried by direct or indirect contact Biosolids are dried on sand beds or on
withhot gases to reduce the moisture content of paved or unpaved basins. The biosolids
the biosolids to 10% or lower. Either the dry for a minimum of 3 months. During
temperature of the biosolids particles exceeds 2 of the 3 months, the ambient average
80EC (176EF) or the wet bulb teniperature of daily temperature is above OEC (32EF).
the gas in contact with the biosolids as the
biosolids leave the dryer exceeds 80EC (1 76EF).

3. Heat Treatment 3. Anaerobic Digestion

Liquid biosolids are heated to a temperature of Biosolids are treated in the absence of air
180EC (356EF) or higher for 30 minutes. for a specific niean cell residence time
(i.e., solids retention time) at a specific
temperature. Values for the mean cell
residence time and temperature shall be
between 15 days at 35EC to SSEC
(131EF) and 60 days at 20EC (68EF).
Regulatory Requirements 121


4. Therniophllic Aerobic Digestion 4. Cornposting

Liquid biosolids are agitated with air or oxygen Using either the within-vessel, static
to maintainaerobic conditions and the mean cell aerated pile, or windrow composting
residence time (i.e.., the solids retention time) of methods, the temperature of the biosolids
the biosolids is 10 days at 55EC (131EF) to is r a i d to 40EC (104EF) or higher and
60EC (140EF). remains at 40EC (104EF) or higher for 5
days. For 4 hours during the 5-day
period, the temperature in the compost
pile exceeds 55EC (13 1EF).

5. Beta Ray Irradiation 5. Linie Stabllizatioii

Biosolids are irradiated with beta rays from an S d c i e n t lime is added to the biosolids to
electron accelerator at dosages of at least 1.0 raise the pH ofthe biosolids to 12 afler 2
megarad at rmm temperature (ca. 2OEC hours of contact.

6. G m i a Ray Irradlntlon
Biosolids are irradiated with ganuna rays from
certain isotopes, such as Cobalt 60 and Cesium
137, at dosages of at least 1.0 megarad at room
temperature (ca. 20EC [68EF]).

7. Pasteurization
The tempaature ofthe biosolids is maintained at
70EC (15PEF) or higher for 30 minutes or

Site restrictions with respect to types of crops, animal grazing, turf growing and
public access are also required for Class B biosolids [503.32(b)(5)], as shown in
Figure 2-4.

Class A pathogen reduction requirement for bulk biosolids applied to a lawn or

home garden is based on the infeasibility of imposing site restrictions on such areas.
Rather than imposing site restrictions which would be needed if the bulk biosolids
met only Class B pathogen requirements, EPA has also imposed the Class A
requirements for biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other container for land
122 Forste


Food crops with harvested parts that touch the biosolids/soil mixture and
are totally above the land surface shall not be harvested for 14 months after
application of biosolids.

Food crops with harvested parts below the surface of the land shall not be
harvested for 20 months after application of biosolids when the biosolids
remain on the land surface for four months or longer prior to incorporation into
the soil.

Food crops with harvested parts below the surface of the land shall not be
harvested for 38 months after application of biosolids when the biosolids
remain on the land surface for less than four months prior to incorporation into
the soil.

Food crops, feed crops and fiber crops shall not be harvested for 30 days
after application of biosolids.

Animals shall not be allowed to graze on the land for 30 days after application
of biosolids.

Turf grown on land where biosolids are applied shall not be harvested for
one year after application of the biosolids when the harvested twf is placed on
either land with a high potential for public exposure or a lawn, unless
otherwise specified by the permitting authority.

Public access to land with a high potential for public exposure shall be
restricted for one year after application of biosolids.

Public access to land with a low potential for public exposure shall be
restricted for 30 days after application of biosolids.


Domestic Septage Pathogen Reduction r503.32(c)]

Class A or Class B biosolids requirements apply to domestic septage used on all
types of land. No pathogen-related requirements apply to domestic septage placed
on a surface disposal site.
Pathogen reduction in domestic septage applied to agncultural land, a forest or
a reclamation site can be met in one of two options:
Regulatory Requirements 123

all Class B site restrictions under 503.32(b)(5) must be met; or

c the pH of the septage must be raised to no less than 12 by alkali addition and
maintained at this level for 30 minutes without adding more alkali, the site
restrictions on crop harvesting must be met.

The same site restrictions that apply to Class B biosolids applied to the land are
also imposed when domestic septage is applied, unless a pH requirement for
domestic septage is met along with site restrictions concerning the harvesting of
crops. These restrictions prohibit harvesting of crops, grazing of animals and public
access to the site for a period of time. Restrictions on crop harvesting are part of this
second alternative because EPA does not believe adequate pathogen reduction is
achieved by pH adjustment to allow crops to be harvested immediately after applying
domestic septage.

Vector Attraction Reduction

A sigrdicant route for pathogen transport is vector transmission. Vectors are living
organisms capable of transmitting a pathogen from one organism to another
mechanically (simply transporting the pathogen), or biologically (by having a role in
the pathogen's life cycle).
Insects, birds, flies, rodents are the most likely vectors. Current USEPA
Regulations establish twelve options for vector attraction reduction (VAR).
Compliance with the vector attraction reduction requirements must be demonstrated
separately from compliance with the pathogen reduction requirements. Vector
attraction reduction options are summarized in Table 2-8.
When bulk biosolids are applied to agicultural land, forests, public contact sites
or reclamation sites, one of ten VAR requirements must also be met. This vector
attraction requirement is in addition to the pathogen requirements and both must be
One of the first eight VAR options must be met when bulk biosolids are applied
to a lawn or home garden. Injection below the land surface and incorporation into
the soil cannot be used to achieve VAR in these cases since implementation would
be dflicult ifnot impossible. Similarly, one of the first eight VAR requirements must
be met for biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other container for the reasons
just cited.
For domestic septage, the pH elevation to 12 or higher for 30 minutes, injection
below the surface of the land or incorporation into the soil after application will all
meet the VAR requirements of 503.

Management Practices
When bulk biosolids are applied to agricultural land, forests, a public contact site or
a reclamation site, the management practices set forth in Figures 2-2 and 2-3 are
imposed. These management practices do not apply for bulk biosolids applied to a
124 Forste

lawn or home garden based on EPA's determination that large amounts of bulk
biosolids will not be applied to lawns or home gardens for several applications and
the pollutant limits already insure a high degree of protection. In addition, the
management practices in many cases have no relevance in the lawn or home garden

Monitoring frequency requirements in the 503 Regulations apply to both pollutant
concentrations in biosolids and for compliance with pathogen reduction and vector
attraction reduction requirements. Frequency of monitoring requirements also are
included in the subparts on surface disposal and incineration in order to make the
Part 503 self-implementing.


Requirement What is Required? Most Appropriate For:

Option 1 At least 38% reduction in Biosolids processed by:

503.33 volatile solids during biosolids Anaerobic biological
@XI) treatment treatment
Aerobic biological treatinelit
Chemical oxidation

Option 2 Less than 17% additional Only for anaerobically

503.33 volatile solids loss during digested biosolids that cannot
(bX2) bench-scale anaerobic batch meet the requirements of
digestion for 40 additional days Option 1
at 30EC to 37EC (86EF to

Option 3 Less than 15% additional Only for aerobically digested

503.33 volatile solids reduction during biosolids with 2% or less
(bx3 1 bench-scale aerobic batch solids that cannot meet the
digestion for 30 additional days requirements of Option 1 --
at 20EC (68EF) e.g., biosolids treated in
extended aeration plants

Option 4 SOUR* at 2OEC (68EF) is Biosolids froni aerobic

503.33 1.5 nig oxygenlhrlg total processes (should not be used
(bX4) solids for composted biosolids)

Option 5 Aerobic treatinent of the Composted biosolids

503.33 biosolids for at least 14 days at (Options 3 and 4 are likely to
(bX5) over 40EC (104EF) with an be easier to meet for biosolids
average temperature of over froni other aerobic processes)
45EC (1 13EF)
Regulatory Requirements 125

TABLE 2-8 (cow.)

Option6 Addition of sufficient alkali to AUcali-treatedbiosolids

503.33 raisethepHtoatleast12at (alkalies include lime,fly as4
@X6) 25°C(770F)andmaht&a kilUdUStandWo0ddl)
pH 2 12 for2 hours and apH
2 11.5 for22 more hours

option7 Biosolids treated by an

503.33 aerobic or anaerobic process
@X7) (i.e., biosolids that do not
contain unstabilized solids

Option 8 Percent solids 290% prior to Biosolids that Oontain

503.33 mixhgwith dher malerials unstabilii solids generated
@X8) inprimaryWastewater
mdment (e.g., any heatdried

Option9 Biosolids are injected into soil Biosolids applied to the land
503.33 so that no significant amount of or placed on a surface disposal
ex91 biosolids are present on the site. Domesticseptage
landsurface 1 hour after applied to agricultural land, a
hj4m except Class A forest, or a reclamation site, or
biosolids which must be placedona surface disposal
injectedwithin8hoursafter site

option 10 Biosolids inoapotatedintothe Biosolids applied to the land

503.33@X10) soil withiu 6 hours after
application to land or sitc. D o m e s t i c w e
placementonaBurfacedisposal applialto agriarltural land,
site, except Class A biosolids forest, or a reclamation site, or
which must be applied to or placedona d i d i s p o d
placedonthelandsurfa Site
DathORCXI radudOn DlWXSS

option 11 Biosolids placed on a surface Biosolids a domestic septage

503.33 disposal sitemustbe m v d placed on a surface disposal
@X11) with soil or other material at site
the end of each opffatingday

option 12 pH of domestic septage must Domestic septage appliedto

503.3 be d t o 2 12 at 25°C
( 7 7 3 by alkali addition and reC~amation site or p l d on a
@XI21 . .
mmtmedat 212 for30 surface dispapal site
minutea without adding mom
alkali I
SOUR:S@c Oxygen Uptake Rate
126 Forste

The frequency of monitoring is based on the amount of biosolids used or

disposed annually. For biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other container, the
land application monitoring frequency is based on the amount of biosolids received
by the preparer.
The frequency of monitoring specified for the lowest range (i.e., > 0 but < 290
metric tons per year) indicates that when biosolids are not used or disposed during
a 365 day period no monitoring for the requirements of Part 503 is required.
Biosolids must be monitored only when an amount is used or disposed in a 365 day
period (Table 2-9).

Amount of Biosolids* Estimated Size of Frequcncy
(Metric Tons pcr 365 Day Facility (MGD)***
Period - Dry Wcight Basis)

>O to ~ 2 9 (320)**

,290 to <1,500 (1,653)** B0.9 to 4 . 5 once per quarter

I once per 60 days I

~~ ~

31,500 to <15,000 (16,530)** 24.5 to <45

I 215,000 (>16,530)** L45 I oncepermonth I

* Either the aitioutit of bulk biosolids applied to flie latid or the amourit of
biosolids received by a persoti who prepares biosolids that is sold or
given away in a bag or other containerfor application to the latid.
** Values in parentheses are dry tons.
*** These valrres are not listed in the 503 Regulatiotis but are rule-ofthurrrb
values based oti one diy loti of biosolids beiiig produced for eveiy
iirillioti galloiis per day &fGD) of wastewaterprocessed.

Under the 503 Regulations, the peimitting authority can reduce the fiequency
of monitoring for pollutant concentrations and pathogen requirements after two years
of monitoring at the fiequency specified in Part 503. However, monitoring fiequency
must be at least once per year when biosolids are applied to the land. Reducing the
fiequency of monitoring for pathogen densities addresses enteric viruses and viable
helminth ova in biosolids. As part of those requirements, the biosolids must be
analyzed for viruses and ova each time the biosolids are monitored. After those two
organisms are found in the influent to the pathogen treatment process and after tlie
Regulatory Requirements 127

required reduction for those organisms is demomtrated through the treatment

process, the biosolids do not have to be monitored for enteric viruses and viable
helminth ova when values for the process operating parameters are consistent with
the documented values for those parameters. The potential reduction in frequency
of monitoring applies only to pathogen density reduction requirements for enteric
viruSes and viable h e h t h ova and cannot be reduced for the other pathogen density
Every container of domestic septage applied to agricultural land, forests or
reclamation sites must be monitored to establish compliance with the pH adjustment
requirement when that requirement is met. Each container (e.g., each tanldtiuck
load) must be monitored because there is no way to ensure that the pH requirement
will be met if only a certain number of containers are monitored.

The final Part 503 Regulations contain recordkeeping requirements for bulk biosolids
and bulk material or biosolids sold or given away in a bag or other container
regardless of whether such biosolids meet the requirements which would exempt
them from the cumulative pollutant loading limits contained in Table 2-5.
Recordkeeping requirements also apply to domestic septage applicd to agricultural
land, forests or reclamation sites.
Recordkeeping requirements specify the information that must be developed, the
person who must develop and retain the infoimation and the period h a t this
information must be retained. The infoimation that must be developed depcnds on
which pollutant limits are met and which pathogen and vector attraction reduction
requirements are met; the infomation is needed to show that the requirements i n
Subpart B are met. For biosolids that do not meet the pollutant concentrations in
503.13(b)(3), the more stringent Class A pathogen requirements and one of the
vcctor attractionrequucments in 503.33(b)(I ) through (8), the person who prepares
the biosolids must develop certain information (e.g., pollutant concentrations in the
biosolids) and the applier must develop other information (e.g., the record of the
amount of each pollutant applied to the land). These persons may be the treatnicnt
works, an agent of the treatment works, a private contractor or some other person
For example, when the bulk biosolids meet the pollutant concentrations and the less
stringent Class B pathogen requirements, the person who applies the biosolids to thc
land must develop infoimation concerning how the restrictions on the application site
are met and keep those records. Depending on which pollutant limits are met,
infoimation must usually be retained for five years. However, when cumulative
pollutant loading rates are met, records for certain information have to be retained
indcfinitely in order to know how much of an inorganic pollutant has bccn applied
tcj the land.
128 Forste

Future EPA Rewlatorv Actions on Part 503 Program

On April 3, 1995, EPA's Office of Water published a preliminaxy report on
regulatory streamlining measures within the Agency's water program regulations.
Targeting the Part 503 biosolids management program, EPA plans to revise the
requirements to delete chromium pollutant limits, increase the ceiling limits for
pollutants in areas with high background levels of the pollutant, and eliminate the use
of the 99th percentile to set pollutant concentrations. Revisions may also include
new pollutant limitsfor molybdenum, revised requirements for incinerator emissions,
and revisions to reporting and recordkeeping requirements.
EPA's Dioxin Reassessment is currently under review, and the agenda items

an EPA overview of the Agency's proposed dioxin research program

an overview of EPA's regulatory programs that may be impacted by the Dioxin
updates from EPA and others on the Draft Dioxin Reassessment public
comment responses and the Dioxin Call-in
fiuther discussions of known and unknown sources

EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) will review the Agency's dioxin risk
assessment. Two separate charges--an exposure document charge consisting of 20
questions and a health document charge consisting of 23--will be addressed. The
issue of toxicity equivalence factors (TEFs) is likely among the most controversial
issues to be examined. TEFs are used to calculate a toxic potency, measured in terms
of the potency of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin(TCDD), for various dioxin-
like chemicals. Data h i s h e d to EPA concluded that POTWs are nominal sources
of dioxin releases to the environment.
EPA will propose and promulgate additional standards for the use or disposal
of biosolids (Round 11) following a review of contaminants from a list of 31
pollutants listed in a Consent Decree dated May 25, 1993. The Agency will then
develop regulations that will establish requirements for biosolids under the following
conditions: when applied to the land for a beneficial purpose, when disposed on land
by placing on surface disposal sites, and incinerated. The court-ordered schedule
calls for proposed Round I1 regulations by December 1999 and final promulgation
by December 2001. EPA may significantly reduce the number of pollutants for
M e r regulatory action and focus on only those with a human health impact
EPA is scheduled to propose claracations to ease implementation of the Part
503 rules and to address inconsistenciesin the regulations in 1995. According to an
EPA internal memo a Federal Register notice will propose the Agency: (1) clarify
the land application rules to indicate that pollutant ceiling concentration limits pertnin
to any land-applied biosolids; (2) delete the requirement to record the time of day
Regulatory Requirements 129

biosolids or septage is applied to land; (3) spec@ biosolids pH must be reported at

the standard temperature of 25 degrees Celsius; (4) require seven samples of Class
A sludges by analyzed for fecal colifom, (5) allow permitting authorities to
determine equivalency for options to reduce vector attractions reduction options other
than those specified in Part 503; (6) change site-specific pollutant limits for biosolids
incinerators fi-om daily conmtxations to an average monthly concentration; (7) allow
permitting authorities to delete site-specific limits for incineration if the pollutant are
extremely high; and (8) modify the certification statement used throughout Part 503
to allow biosolids authorities to certitjl that compliance information was collected,
whether or not requirements were met.


1. 33 U.S.C.A. 1251 et. seq.

2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Standards for the Use or Disposal of
Sewage Sludge. 40 CFR Parts 257,403 and 503. February 19,1993.
3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 40 CFR Part 257, Criteria for
Classification of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and Practices. Federal Register
44( 179):53438-53464. 1979.
4. US. Environmental Protection Agency. Municipal Sludge Management Policy.
Federal Register. June 12, 1984.
5. U S . Environmental Protection Agency. Interagency Policy on Beneficial Use
of Municipal Sewage Sludge on Federal Land. Federal Register. July 18, 199 1.
6 . National Sewage Sludge Survey. 55FR472 10. November 1990.
7. U S . Environmental Protection Agency. Response to Public Comments on the
Proposed Part 503 Sewage Sludge Use and Disposal Regulations and the
National Sewage Sludge Notice of Availability. Washington, D.C. 1992.
8. 56FR50978. October 9, 1991.
9. 56FR5507. February 1 1, 1991.
10 US. Environmental Protection Agency. Fate of Priority Pollutants in Publicly-
Owned Treatment Works. Vol. I. Efluent Guidelines Division, Washington,
D.C. EPA 44011-82-303. 1982.
11 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ground-Water Protection Strategy.
Washington, D.C. 1984.
12. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Peer Review - Standards for the Disposal of
Sewage Sludge US. Environmental Protection Agency Proposed Rule 40 CFR
Parts 157 and 503. 1989.
13. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Review of Proposed Sewage Sludge
Incineration Rules (40 CFR Part 257 and 503). EPA-SAB-EEC-89-035. 1989.
130 Forste

14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Technical Support Document for Land
Application of Sewage Sludge. EPA 822R-93-001a. November 1992.
15. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Domestic Septage Regulatory
Guidance: A Guide to the EPA 503 Rule. EPA 832-B-92-005. September
16. U S . Environmental Protection Agency. Standards for the Use or Disposal of
Sewage Sludge, Appendix G.11. February 19, 1993.
17. US. Environmental Protection Agency. Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Part
503 Sewage Sludge Regulation. EPA 821-R-93-006. 1993.
Conditioning and Dewatering
Robert J. Kukenberger

Blasland, Bouck 8 Lee, Inc.

Syracuse, New Yo&

Conditioning and dewatering is an integral and often necessary process associated with
reuse or disposal of wastewater solids. Biosolids conditioning, the first step in the
process, prepares liquid biosolids by changing chemical and/or physical properties to
allow separationof the solid and liquid fractions. Dewatering, the separation of solid
and liquid portions of biosolids slurries, is generally accomplished by mechanical
means,although passive systems, such as drying beds and natural fieeze/thaw lagoons,
are used where weather permits. Thickening can be the first phase of dewatering, or
can function as a stand-alone process to remove a portion of the liquid fiaction,
creating a thick slurry.
Conditioning and dewatering prepares the biosolids for subsequent processes,
such as dqmg, incineration, composting, alkaline stabilizationor for beneficial use as
a soil amendment and fertdizer, or for disposal in landfills. The volume and weight
of liquid or slurry biosolids can be reduced by as much as 20-fold, although typical
processes will achieve a 10-fold reduction in volume and weight. Handling
characteristicsare also improved, as dewatered biosolids can be handled as a solid or
semi-solid rather than as a liquid slurry.
This chapter focuses primarily on chemical conditioning with organic
polyelectrolytes (polymers) and mechanical dewatering. Inorganic chemical
conditioning (e.g., lime and ferric chloride) is also covered; however, the use of
inorganic chemicals is becoming less common as polymer technology improves.

132 Kukenberger

High-pressure thermal treatment obviates the need for chemical conditioning.

Thermal conditioning at atmospheric pressure in conjunction with polymers is a new
technology and holds promise in plants that have low-cost heat or waste heat available
for heating biosolids slunies prior to dewatering.
Mechanical dewatering is generally favored over passive dewatering (drying
beds and fi-eezekhylagoons) as a primary means of dewatering, except in parts of the
world that have climates favorable to such technologies or for small treatment plants.
Mechanical dewatering machmes are continuously being developed and improved, and
new and improved equipment combined with improved conditioning chemicals has
resulted in production of diyer biosolids cakes. New technologies are also being
developed, requiring planners, designers, and operators to stay current with the latest
conditioning and dewatering technologies.
Dewatering processes discussed in this chapter include:

Belt filter presses

Pressure filters (plate and frame presses)
Vacuum filters
Screw presses
Rotaiy presses
Diying beds and fi-eezelthaw lagoons
Bag dewatering

Biosolids thickening is an important process that can be accomplished

independently from dewatering or as an integral part of the dewatering process.
Independent thickening processes include:

Gravity belt thickening

Flotation thickening
0 Gravity thickening


Dewatering of most biological solids is not practical without conditioning by either

chemical or physical means, including:

- Organic and inorganic chemical addition

Theimal treatment (with and without increased pressure)
Addition of bulking material
and Conditioning 133

Conditioning represents a signifcant cost component of biosolidsandor reuse

disposal; therefore, particular attention needs to be given to this process during
planning, design, and operations.

A. Organic Polyelectrolytes
The use of polymers in the wastewater industry began in the1960s [l]. Biosolids
dewatering equipment technology has developed substantially since the introduction
of polymers, leadingto the extensive useof polymers for conditioning. Polymers
manmade, long-chain molecules which function in several ways coagulate and
flocculate solids particles. The most important bonding mechanisms associated with
polymer conditioning are:


Electrostaticattraction is similartomagneticattractionandreliesonthe
attraction of positively and negatively charged particles. Vander Waals attractionis
a weak attraction caused by polarization. van der Waals attraction can be explained
qualitatively by considering that even neutral atoms and molecules have systems of
is an attraction of highly
oscillating charges that attract each other. Chemical bonding
polar molecules. Chemical forces extend only over very short distances [2].





134 Kukenb erger

Polymers used for conditioning of biosolids can be categorized by charge,

molecular weight, and foim. Polymers are available as cationic (positive), anionic
(negative), or nonionic (neutral). Cationic polymers are most often used for
conditioning of wastewater biosolids; however, anionic and nonionic polymers have
applications for some biosolids either independently or in conjunction with cationic
polymers. For example, very old biosolids can lose their charge and may require a
combination of anionic and cationic polymers for eEective conditioning [3]. Figure
3- 1 depicts negatively charged biosolids particles conditioned with cationic polymers.
Polymers for wastewater treatment and biosolids conditioning are usually purchased
in dty, liquid, or emulsion form.


Allied Colloids, Inc. Calgon

2301 Wilroy Road Water Management Division
P.O. Box 820 P.O. Box 1346
Suffolk, VA 23439-0820 Pittsburgh, PA 15230-1346

Callaway Clieniical Cytec Industries

Division of Exxon Chemical C o 5 Garret Mountain Plaza
P.0.Box 2335 W. Patterson, NJ
Columbus, GA 3 1993 (201) 357-3100
(800) 241-7543

Diatec Enviroimiental Nalco Chemical Co.

1245 Paramount Drive One Nalco Center
Butavia, IL 60510 Naperville, IL 60566
(800) 541-8041 (708) 305-1000

Rhoiie-Poulenc, Inc. Secodyne, Inc.

(Fomierly Polypure, Allied Signal) P.O. Box 10717
One Catehall Drive Detroit, M1 48210
Parsippany, NJ 07054 (800) 824-0933
(201) 232-2900

2408 Doyle Street
Greensboro, NC 27406
(919) 333-3561

1. ClassiJicatioii of Polyiireis

Cationic polymers ai-e foimed by joining aciylarnide monomers together or by

modification of acrylamide monomers. Manufacture of various polymer types and
Conditioning and Dewatering 135

specific polymers are beyond the scope of this book; however, the reader is directed
to the "Guidance Manual for Polymer Selection in Wastewater Treatment Plants" for
specific polymer manufacturing and development information [4].
Major polymer manufacturers in the USA are shown in Table 3-1.

2. Foriiis of Po!ytner.s

Drv Polymers
Dry polymers are manufactured as powder, granules, beads, or flakes. Dry polymers
have a high active content, typically 90-95% [5]. Dry polymers have proven to be
very effective for biosolids condilioning; however, handling of diy polymers requires
more manual labor than handling of liquids and emulsions.

Emulsions are dispersions of polymer particles in hydrocarbon oil. Emulsions are
high molecular weight polymcrs with high solids. Active polymer levels of emulsions
usually range from 25 to 50%. Emulsions are pourable, clear to white milky liquids
with viscosities ranging fi-om 300 to 5,000 centipoise (cps) [5]. Emulsions are stored
in tanks and transported with pumps; therefore, many operators prefer emulsions over
dry polymers.

Mannich polymers have high molecular weight and very high viscosity, typically
rangng kom 45,000 to 60,000 cps. As a cornpaison, room temperature molasses has
a viscosity of 24,000 cps, and water has a viscosity of 1 cps. Mannich polymers have
an active solids level of 2-10%. 'The pH of Mannich polymers can be as high as 12.
Mannich polymers have a I-elativelyshort shelf life, which is a factor in purchase,
delivery, and storage. Maiuiichs are manufactured using formaldehyde, which has
raised concerns regarding the health and safety of workers using mannichs and the
environmental impacts associated with beneficial reuse of mannich-polymer-treated
biosolids [5].

Liquid Polvmers
There is a wide range of liquid polymer types available. Liquid polymers have low to
medium molecular weight, viscosity ranging fiom 1 to 6,000 cps, and active solids
ranging from 10 to 60%. The pIH of liquid polymers is generally neutral to acidic.
Shelf life can be from two months to one year depending on the manufacturer [5].

3 . Polynier. Seleclioti

Design of new or upgraded facilities should include the capability of handling both dry
and liquid or emulsion polymers to give the operator flexibility. Selection of the most
effective polymer for each application is based on the following criteria:
136 Kukenberger

Biosolids characteristics

- Performance objectives
Type of dewatering process employed
Downstream impacts of filtrate or centrate

Jar testing is used for screening to determine which polymers have the most
potential to be effective in full-scale dewatering applications. Polymer testing is
usually conducted as an annual event; therefore, the operator should attempt to obtain
biosolids samples for testing that represent, as closely as possible, conditions for the
upcoming year. If a side-by-side comparison of various polymers is being made, the
tests should be done simultaneously to be sure the biosolids are of similar
characteiistics. Ifcost is to be a major selection factor, preliminaiy cost estimates can
be made prior to jar testing based on dosage and cost estimates from the polymer
vendors. Cost is typically expressed as cost per unit weight of biosolids treated
(dollars per dry ton of biosolids). Polymer vendors and manufacturers will generally
provide jar testing to screen various polymers and will assist the operator on full-scale
field testing.
Biosolids should be characterized to determine solids concentration, inorganic
(ash) content, biological solids content, and biosolids chemishy. Concentrations of
solids can change due to changes in the wastewater and biosolids treatment practices.
Lower solids concentrations will generally require more polymers (on a pounds per
dry ton basis). Expected changes in solids concentrations should be assessed, and
appi-opiate adjustments made, during jar testing and field testing of conditioning and
dewatering processes.
Biosolids with low inorganic (high ash) content usually have cationic charge
neutxalization requirements. Fresh or digestcd biosolids generally have an ash content
of 1 5 5 0 % and eshibit cationic charge neutralization demands. Higher ash contents
(>50%) may be encountered from lime-stabilized or chemically treated biosolids.
Extremely old biosolids, such as lagoon-stored biosolids, may also have high inorganic
content. Biosolids with greater than 50% inorganic content may exhibit either an
anionic or nonionic charge demand. Bench testing with various polymers should be
done to verify the ionic charge demand, and subsequently the most appropriate
polymer. In some cases, a combination of anionic, nonionic, and cationic polymers
will be more effective than any single form of polymer due to the charge neutralization
The percentage of solids resulting fi-om biological treatment processes can
significantly impact conditioning. Solids produced by biological (secondary)
treatment processes are more difficult to dewater than raw pl-imaiy or chemical solids
[ 5 ] . Unconditioned biological solids have poor characteristics for mechanical
dewatering. The trend in larger wastewater treatment fac es is to condition
secondary solids separately from raw or primaiy solids. It is generally less costly to
Conditioning and Dewatering 137

treat these solids separately; however, the cost and complexity of two separate systems
may offset the advantages, particularly in smaller facilities.
Extended storage of biosolids usually increases conditioning requirements. Only
well stabilized biosolids should be stored prior to conditioning and dewatering to
prevent anaerobic conditions. Biosolids should be processed within a few hours of
production; however, aeration of raw biosolids for up to 4 or 5 days can improve
dewatering characteristics. Dewaterability deteriorates significantly if biosolids are
stored for longer than 5 days.
Anaerobically digested biosolids generally have higher polymer dosage
requirements than raw or unprocessed primary biosolids, and are generally more
difficult to dewater. Polymers with moderate cationic charge and moderate to high
molecular weight are usually most effective on anaerobically digested biosolids.
Polymer dosage requirements for aerobically digested biosolids are similar to dosage
requirements for anaerobically digested biosolids, however, more highly charged
polymers are typically required.

B. Polymer Feed and Control Systems

Polymer feed systems are selected based on the form of polymer to be used. In larger
wastewater eeatment plants, designers will often select multiple feed systems to allow
the operator to select the most appropriate and cost-effective polymer form.

1 , Polyirier Feed Systerri Requisenrents

The key requirements of a polymer feed system are:

Proper polymer storage

Complete dissolution to prevent polymer waste
Lack of undissolved particles to prevent clogging of equipment and pipes
Proper mixing
Proper equipment sizing
Optimum dosage - underfeeding does not accomplish results and
overfeeding can upset treatment and waste polymers

Polymer feed systems should allow for dosage variations of 20 to 1 to give the
operator adequate flexibility. Multiple polymer application points into the biosolids
stream should be provided. It is necessaiy to provide diy, temperature-controlled
storage areas to prolong the life of the polymer. Make-up water should have a pH of
6-8, be fkee of suspended solids, have a specific conductivity of < I ,200 micromho per
centimeter (pmhohm), total dissolved solids of 4 0 0 mg/L, and temperature of 10"-
50°C (50" -120°F). Residual chlorine in the make-up water should be less than 0.5
mg/L [ 11. Typical polymer feed systems are depicted in Figure 3-2. Polymer feed
138 Kukenberger

systems can be assembled from components or purchased as skid-mounted package

Compact polymer blending systems have been shown to be successhl in many
applications. Polymer blending systems can eliminate the need for mixing and aging
tanks, which saves considerable space and operator attention [6].

Dry Feeder

Llquld or

Feed Transln UetMblg

Pumps Pumps Pump.


2. Polynier COWO~

The control of polymer feed for biosolids conditioning affects the thickening and
dewatering perfoimance, quality offiltrate or centrate, and the cost of chemicals. With
polymer conditioning, “more is not better” because overdose as well as underdose can
have deleterious effects on dewatering efficiency. Manual control is typically
accomplished by measuring cake concentration, filtratelcentrate quality, and, in belt
filter press installations, by visual obseivation of the conditioned biosolids on the
gravity deck.
Several technologies have recently become available for automatic or semi-
automatic control of polymer feed, including streaming current detectors, sludge
flocculation controllers, and reflective (infrared) scanning of gravity drained biosolids.
The streaming current detector measures colloidal charge (streaming current) in
the filtrate or centrate fi-om the biosolids dewatering process. Research has shown that
a near zero charge indicates optimum dewaterability and that the centratekltrate
exhibits nearly the same charge as conditional biosolids [9]. Therefore, streaming
current measurements of filtrate or centrate can be used to control polymer feed.
Biosolids flocculation controllers measure the rheological characteristics of the
biosolids before and after conditioning. Relationships have been developed between
polymer addition and rheology, which can be used to optimize polymer addition and
Conditioning and Dewatering 139

dewaterability. Flocculation controllers control polymer feed by alternately measuring

raw and conditioned biosolids rheological characteristics to optimize polymer feed.
Flocculation controllers appear to have difliculties in controlling polymer dose over
a wide range of biosolids conditions [ 7 ] .
Automatic scanning of biosolids reflective characteristics on the gravity drainage
section of belt filter presses can be accomplished with infrared sensors [9]. Infrared
sensors are placed along the length of the gravity deck to evaluate drainage
effectiveness. Signals from the sensors can be used to control polymer feed, belt
speed, and biosolids feed rate. The principle is essentially the same as visual
observationby the operator, except that the sensing and control is continuous and can
potentially save up to 20-30% of the polymer dose [S], [9].

3. Polynier Consuiiiptioii

Organic polymer consumption depends on a wide range of variables. Belt filter

presses (BFPs) typically use polymers to condition biosolids to achieve separation of
the water from the biosolids sluiiy. Use of a wide range of dosages, ranging from 1
to 25 g/kg dry solids (2-50 lbdton), has been practiced, although typical dosage
requirements for BFPs are between 3 to 6 g k g dry solids [5]. Belt filter presses rely
on significant removal of water in the gravity drainage section, which is highly
dependent on good conditioning. Underconditioning causes poor dewatering in the
gravity section, and overconditioning causes blinding of the filter press cloth (media).
Organic polymers are also used with solid bowl centrifuges for wastewater
biosolids dewatering. The recently developed "high solids centrifuges" rely heavily
on good polymer conditioning. Typical dosages range from 2-4 g k g (4-8 lbs/ton) for
traditional solid bowl centrifuges and up to 10 g/kg (20 Ibs/ton) for "high solids"
centrifuges [5].
In the past, organic polymers have not been used extensively for plate and frame
(pressure) filter presses. Poor and inconsistent dewatering and media blinding have
been historical problems associated with polymers used with plate and frame filters.
As polymer technology continues to improve, however, conditioning for plate and
frame filtration has become more effective. Also, the use of precoat agents, such as
diatomaceous earth or fly ash, prevents cloth blinding. As a result, polymer
conditioning prior to plate and frame filtration is becoming more popular.
Historically, gravity drying bed dewatering was accomplished without
conditioning. Over the past several years, however, improved polymer technology has
led to conditioning prior to applying biosolids to drying beds, which has improved
dying bed performance. Vacuum-assisted diying beds rely on polymer conditioning
for adequate dewatering, but care must be taken to prevent floc break-up, which
typically occurs with pumping or transporting over distances. Floc break-up can be
prevented by conditioning near the discharge to the diying beds. Typical dosage for
vacuum-assisted diying beds is 15 to 25 g k g (30-50 lbs/ton) [I].
140 Kukenberger

Typical Polymer Dosage

Application gram dry polymer/kilogram dry

Vacuum Assisted

C. Inorganic Chemical Conditioning

Inorganic chemicals used for biosolids conditioning prior to dewatering typically

include iron salts (fenic chloride, ferrous chloride, and ferrous sulfate) and lime.
Lime (CaO and Ca(0H)J and ferric chloride (FeCl,) are the most widely used
inorganic chemicals for biosolids conditioning. Use of inorganic chemicals has
decreased in recent years because of improved polymers.
As compared to polymers, inorganic chemicals may be more effective with
certain biosolids, particularly when employing filter presses and vacuum filters,
however,the use of inorganic chemicalsmay: require a higher dosage rate; increase
weight and volume; reduce the heat value of the biosolids; and add metals to the final
Conditioning and Dewatering 141

1. Ferric Chloride

Fenic chloride is available commercially in liquid foim as a 30-35% solution. In cold

climates, ferric chloride may be shipped at lower concentrations to avoid
crystallization. Commercial ferric chloride is an orange-brown corrosive and acidic
Fenic chloride is used as a conditioner to improve biosolids dewaterability by
destabilizing negatively charged particles. Flocculation with ferric chloride requires
a pH above 6; therefore, lime is usually added to offset the pH reduction caused by
ferric chloride. Further, rapid mixing should be provided to cause particle collision
and promote flocculation.
All materials handling equipment for ferric chloride must be coirosion resistant
(i.e,, non-metallic). Pumps, valves, piping, tanks, etc., are provided in plastic-,
fiberglass-, or i-ubber-lined steel. FeiTic chloride can cause severe burns to eyes and
skin, and fiunes can cause uiteinal buns if inhaled. Protective gear and specific safety
precautions must be adhered to when handling ferric chloride.

2 . Lime

Lime is commercially available as quicklime (CaO) and hydrated lime (Ca(OH),).

Quicklime is manufactured by burning crushed limestone in high temperature
kilns. During the buning process, carbon dioxide is driven off, leaving calcium oxide
(CaO). Quicklime is usually sold in pebble form for ease in handling. To use
quicklime in wastewater processes, it is sluii-ied with water to form calcium hydroxide
(Ca(OH),) prior to use.
Hydrated lime is a powdered foim of Ca(OH),. Commercially available hydrated
lime is prefeired for small and inteimediate applications because it does not require
slaking. For larger applications (greater than 2 tons per day), quicklime is usually
more economical, even though slaking is required.
Lime is used as a biosolids conditioning agent to raise the pH, reduce odors, and
add bulk via formation of calcium carbonate and calcium hydroxide complexes.
Lime dust is an irritant if inhaled and can cause buins to skin and eyes due to
heat generated when CaO comes in contact with water.

3 . Applicalioii of Litire and Ferric Cliloride

Lime and feiric chloride are often used together to condition biosolids for dewatering
on filter presses and vacuum filters. With filter presses, the dewatering process is
accomplished in batches, therefore, biosolids are conditioned in a batch (or feed) tank
prior to filling the filter press. Vacuum filtcrs are operated as a continuous process;
therefore, lime and feiiic chloride are added just upstream of the dewatering machine.
142 Kukenb erger

Lime and ferric chloride are not typically used for belt filter presses or
centrifuges, as organic polymers are better suited for these dewatering machines.
F a n c chloride reacts with biosolids by neutralizing negatively charged particles
and forming fmic hydroxide complexes. Because alkalinity is utilized in the reaction,
pH is lowered. Lime is used to raise the pH, provide additional alkalinity, and thereby
allow the reactions involving feiiic chloride to be more eEcient. Lime also forms
calcium carbonate and calcium hydroxide complexes, which provides a matrix in the
biosolids, improving dewaterability .
Feiiic chloride is typically dosed at 2- 10% of solids on a dry weight basis. Lime
is usually dosed at 0-40% on a diy weight basis.

4. Other Inorganic Cheniicols and Additives

Ferrous sulfate (Fe(S0.J) and ferrous chloride (FeC4 ) (waste pickle liquor - a by-
product of the steel industiy) may be used in lieu of ferric chloride. Evaluation of
alternatives to feiric chloride should be based on performance, cost, and availability.
Also, waste pickle liquor may contain by-products of the steel manufacturing
processes, which could cause quality problems associated with reuse or disposal of
Ash, pulverized coal, saw dust, and diatomaceous earth have also been used as
additives for filter presses and vacuum filter dewatering. These additives have limited
use and depend on biosolids characteristics, type of dewatering equipment, and
reuse/disposal options. These additives are noimally used in conjunction with organic
or inorganic chemicals and serve as a filter aid or "precoat" to allow release of the cake
fiom the filter cloth. The addition of diatomaceous earth, fly ash, and cement kiln dust
wese found to be successful when using polymers with plate and frame filter presses
5. Selection Criteria

The decision to use inorganic chcmicals, particularly lime and fen-ic chloride, should
be based on the following criteria:

00 Perfoiinance of conditioning chemicals, as detelmined by testing or full-

scale operations
-0 Type of dewatering equipment proposed or in use
0. Life cycle costs
0. Materials handling and storage requirements
0- End use or disposal options for the dewatered biosolids
Conditioning and Dewatering 143

D. Thermal Conditioning
1 . High-Pressure Tliermal Conditioning

Thermal conditioning of biosolids at elevated pressures breaks down (lyses) the cell
wall of the microorganisms in biological solids, which allows the release of bound
water. High-pressure theimal conditioning alters the physical properties of biosolids,
which results in a drier cake a s compared to that produced by chemical conditioning.
High-pressure thermal conditioning is described in Chapter 6.
High-pressure themially conditioned biosolids will thicken by gravity to a range
of 6 to 15% solids and can be mechanically dewatered to a range of 35 to 75% solids
[ 101. Vacuum filters are typically used for dewatering biosolids that have been
conditioned by high-pressure thermal treatment.

2. Tliervially Enhanced Dewatering

Mixed primary and biological solids dewatering can be enhanced by preheating the
solids to 60°C (140°F) at atmospheric pressure prior to dewatering. Cake solids
concentration may be inci-eased by up to 6%, and polymer usage may be decreased by
as much as 25% with this process [ I I]. This process may be cost effective when
waste heat is available fiom biosolids incinerators or fiom other sources.
Digested or thickened biosolids are heated in heat exchangers prior to polymer
addition and dewatering. Centrate can be returned to the head of the plant or used as
a heat source in the biosolids heat exchanger. The potential for odors is greater if
heated biosolids or centrate/filtrate is exposed to the atmosphere prior to cooling;
therefore, odor conwool facilities need to be designed and sized to address this potential.
Figure 3-3 depicts a thermally enhanced mechanical dewatering system.

PoIynmr Centrate

180 ' C Water


Spiral Heat Dewaterho
Exchanoer Yachhe


144 Kukenberger


A. Process Description

Biosolids are produced as a by-product in wastewater treatment facilities as a liquid

or sluny, generally from less than 1% solids concentration up to 10% solids
concentration. Further handling and processing of biosolids is enhanced by thickening
and/or dewatering. Most thickening devices can achieve a solids concentration of 5-
lo%, and dewatering devices can achieve 20-50% solids concentration. Factors
affecting the thickened and dewalered solids Concentration are:

Characteristics of biosolids
Type of conditioning employed
Type of thickening or dewatering device

Thickening processes include gravity and flotation thickening, centnfUge

thickening, gravity belt thickeners and sotaiy drum thickeners.
Dewatering processes include mechanical devices and passive systems (e.g.,
drying beds). Mechanical devices discussed herein include belt filter presses,
cenhlfuges, pressure filters, vacuum filters, screw presses, and rotary presses. Passive
systems include conventional and vacuum assisted drying beds, freezekhaw lagoons,
and bag dewatering systems.

B. Thickening

Biosolids thickening reduces the volume of material to be handled in subsequent

processing steps. Thickening prior to digestion reduces the size of digesters, reduces
energy requirements for heating anaerobic digesters, and increases digestion
efficiency. Thickening reduces storage and hauling requirements when biosolids ase
recycled in liquid fosm. The Madison Wisconsin Metropolitan Sewerage District
(MMSD) thickens digested biosolids with gravity belt thickeners (GBTs) prior to
liquid land application. MMSD achieves an average thickened solids concentration
of over 6% with GBTs on a feed solids concentration of 2-3% [ 121. Thickening prior
to dewateiing may be beneficial with regard to sizing of dewatering equipment, higher
thsoughput, and higher dewatered solids concentration. Most mechanical dewatering
systems provide thickening integral to the dewatering process.

1. Gravity Thickening

In gravity thickening, biosolids are concentrated by gravity settling and compaction.

Gravity thickeners are typically used for piimaiy biosolids, lime sludges, and
Conditioning and Dewatering 145

combined primary and secondaiy (waste activated) biosolids. Gravity thickeners are
usually circular tanks with steep cone-shaped bottoms to promote bottom withdrawal
of thickened biosolids. Gravity thickeners can achieve undeiflow solids
concentrations of 5- 10% on primaiy biosolids and 4-6%on combined primary and
waste activated biosolids [ 131. Gravity thickeners are sized based on solids mass
loading per unit area. Overflow rates are also an important criteria. Too high of an
overflow rate can cause solids carry-over, and too low of an overflow rate may cause
septic conditions. Dilution water, such as plant effluent, is typically added to maintain
sufficient overflow rates. Typical design mass solids loading and oveiflow rate is
presented in Water Environment Federation Manual of Practice No. 8 [ 131.

2. Dissolved Air. Flolariori (OAF) Thicketiitig

Dissolved air flotation thickening is typically used for secondary waste-activated

biosolids, which do not settle as well as primary biosolids. DAF thickeners rely on the
addition of air in a pressurized system. Microscopic air bubbles attach to the solids
particle to promote flotation. DAF thickeners are either circular or rectangular with
surface skimmers and bottom solids removal mechanisms. Design criteria include
solids loading rate, hydraulic loading rate, and air to solids ratio [ 131. DAF thickeners
can produce a solids concentration of3-5% without conditioning and 3 . 5 4 % with the
addition of polymers [ 131.

3. Ceiilvi~ugalTI1icketI it iy

Centnhgal thickening is commonly applied to waste-activated biosolids. Solids bowl

s thickening are essentially the same as those used for dewatering. The
c e n h ~ g e for
major differences between thickening centrifuges and dewatering centrifuges are the
location of the discharge ports and the configuration of the scroll (conveyor). Typical
thickened solids concentrations with solid bowl centrifuges range from 3-10% [13].
Solid bowl centrifuges are discussed in more detail in Section C.2.

4. Graviv Bell Tliicketiers (GBT) and Roiary Drvttr Tliicketiers

Gravity belt tluckenas and rotaiy drum thickeners are similar to the first stage of belt
filter presses. Polymer conditioning is essential with municipal biosolids, as these
units rely on liquidsolid separation and drainage of the free liquid through a porous
belt or wedge-wire drum. Gravity belt thickeners typically achieve 4-10% solids
concentration [ 131.
146 Kukenberger

C. Mechanical Dewatering

1. Belt Filter. Presses

Belt filter presses (BFPs) are mechanical dewatering machines that utilize two or more
porous belts to dewater biosolids. There are three stages of dewatering on a BFP:

*. Gravity drainage
0. Compression
0. Shear

The BFP is a continuous process and relies heavily on polymer conditioning.

Polymer conditioning agglomerates suspended solids into flocs for initial separation
of the liquid fi-om the solids. Conditioning also builds a structural matnx in the
biosolids that can withstand gradual increase in pressure and shearing action.
The gravity drainage section of a BFP is a porous belt (or rotaiy dlum) that
allows fiee liquid to drain through the belt pores (or drum slots) leaving behind a layer
of partially dewatered (or thickened) biosolids. Gravity drainage is a necessary first
step of dewatering to allow the compression zone to hnction without losing biosolids
out the edges of the belts.
The compression section of the BFP contains two belts which sandwich the
biosolids. As the two belts travel over decreasing diameter rollers under pressure,
compression and shear is created. Liquid is removed to create a biosolids cake of
typically 16-30% solids concentration. Dewatered biosolids are discharged with the
assistance of a "doctor" blade, and the belts are washed with a water spray.
Washwater can be potable or plant effluent water; however, if plant water is used, it
must be fiee of suspended solids to prevent clogging of spray nozzles.

Condiuonlng Lone
Dhcharge TO Pressure Zone

Eiosolkls Feed
Gravlly Drainage Zone


Conditioning and Dewatering 147

Automatic belt tracking systems are provided by means of a roller tensioning

system. The rollers are driven by variable speed motors or hydraulic drive to allow
infinite variation of belt speed. Belts are typically spliced for easy removal and
replacement by the operator. Figure 3-4 depicts a typical belt filter press mechanical
Performance of the belt filter press is controlled by biosolids feed rate, polymer
selection, polymer dosage, point of feed, and belt speed. An experienced operator can
visually observe dewatering characteristics on the first stage (gravity) section of the
belt filter press to determine whether the biosolids are properly conditioned. In
addition, solids concentration of the dewatered biosolids and solids capture (quality
of the filtrate) are monitored to determine o\ierall pelfoimance.

Centrifuges for thickoning and dewatering of biosolids are typically solid bowl
machines. Solid bowl centrifuges are operated as a continuous process. These
machmes rely on centrifugal force that separates the solid and liquid fractions. Solids
are forced away fiom rotating axes of centrifuges, due to the differences in densities
of the solid and liquid phases, and the liquid moves toward the center of the machine.
Both inorganic chemicals and organic chemicals (polymers) have been used
successfully with centrifuges. Due to advances in polymer technology and centrifuge
machine design, polymers are now used for most centrifuge dewatering systems on
municipal wastewater biosolids.
Modem centrifuges for dew atering biosolids consist of a solid bowl, usually
tapered on one end, a scroll conveyer, a case to cover the bowl and conveyor, a heavy
cast iron base, a main drive, and a back drive. The main drive rotates the bowl, and
the back dnve assembly controls the conveyor speed. The range of differential speeds
between the bowl and conveyor vary with different manufacturers. There are two
configurations of solid bowl machines: co-cuirent and counter-current. In the co-
current design, the liquid and solid phases travel in the same direction, and liquid is
removed by an internal skimming device or ports located in the bowl. In the counter-
current design, liquid travels in the opposite direction from solids, and liquid
overflows weir plates. Figure 3-5 shows the main components of a counter-current
solid bowl centrifuge.
Over the last 5 to 10 years there have been significant improvements in
centrifuge design. These new machines, referred to as "high solids" or "compression"
centrifuges, provide improved performance and less maintenance than older
centrifuges. Recent improvements include:

0. Higher operating speeds
Less differentid in speed between conveyer and bowl, resulting in less
148 Kukenberger

Higher solids retention and more compression

Better materials of constiuction

The current generation of cenh-tfbges can achieve solids concentrations from 25-
35%, 510% higher than earlier generation centrifuges and standard BFPs [ 141.
The operator controls the centrihge perfoimance by vruying feed rate, type of
conditioning chemicals, dosage rate, and the bowl/conveyor speed differential. With
some manufacturers, the pool depth in the centrihge can be varied, thereby affecting
dewatering peifomance. The operator monitors solids concentration and solids
recovery (centrate quality) as primaiy perfoimance parameters.

Damtarlno Barnoh


3 . Pressure Filters

Pressure filters (commonly refemed to as plate and frame presses) used for biosolids
and industrial sludge dewateiing are recessed plate presses, either fixed volume or
vaiable volume (diaphragm) machines. The teim "plate and frame press" is derived
from the food industry, which developed the forerunners of today's pressure filters.
Pressure filters are operated as batch processes and require storage and batch tanks
to contain feed biosolids in enough volume to fill the press. In large systems, multiple
presses can be used to reduce storage volume. Modein filter presses can produce
dewatered biosolids with a solids content in escess of 40% [ 131.
Recessed plate pressure filters are horizontally aligned to allow discharge of
dewatered cake by gravity into a receiving bui or conveyor (see Figure 3-6). Recessed
plates are placed on a fixed fi-ame which has a closure mechanism that presses the
plates together and holds them in position during the filling and dewatering cycle.
Conditioning and Dewatering 149

For a fixed volume press, the biosolids are pumped into the recesses over a
period of several hours to continually increase pressure and force the liquid through
the filter cloth. JAW pressure units achieve a pressure of up to 100 pounds per square
inch (psi) (690 kilopascal [@a]), and high pressure units achieve a pressure of up to
225 psi (1550 Wa). The maxirnurn pressure is maintained until the filtrate essentially
stops, signifying the end of the dewatering cycle.
The variable volume press has a diaphragm behind the cloth media. Biosolids
are pumped into the press until the recessed chambers are filled. Pumps are then shut
off, and air or water is pumped into the diaphragm to create pressure in the recessed
chamber. With variable volume presses, higher pressures can be achieved, cycle
times are reduced, and generally more consistent dewatering results can be achieved.
However, diaphragm presses are more costly than fixed volume presses and require
more auxiliary equipment.
Biosolids to be dewatered in pressure filters are typically conditioned with lime
and feinc chloride. Recently, some municipal biosolids dewatering installations have
had success with polymers alone; however, cloth blinding and difficulty with cake
release have been generally observed with polymer-conditioned biosolids. However,
the small decrease in performance with polymers may be offset by lower chemical
costs, reduced ammonia odors, and lower metals content in dewatered biosolids.
Operator control of performance is limited to conditioning; therefore, chemical
selection and dosages are critical control parameters.

rFilter Plates


150 Kukenberger

4. Jfacu14111 Filteis

Vacuum filters have been in existence since the late 1800s and have been used in the
United States for dewatering municipal sludge since the 1920s. The use of vacuum
filters for biosolids dewatering has sharply decreased in recent years due to
developments of more efficient dewatering equipment. Vacuum filters are still used
with high-pressure, thennal-conditioned biosolids, since high solids concentrations
(30-50%) can be achieved. Vacuum filters are also used for dewatering lime sludge
from lime softening water treatment plants, particularly in the southeastern United
The most common vacuum filter consists of a large, horizontally mounted
rotating drum,whch is covered by a porous cloth or metal coils (see Figure 3-7). The
bottom portion of the drum is submerged in a vat of biosolids. As the drum rotates,
biosolids are picked up on the porous medium under a vacuum. The divm is divided
into sections, and vacuum is applied by a rotary valve. The filter operates in three

Cake foi-niation
Cake dewatering
Cake discharge

Vacuum filters can be successhlly used with organic (polyelectrolyte)

conditioning, inorganic (lime and fen-ic chloride) conditioning, and thermal
Operating variables include drum speed, liquid level in the vat, vacuum level,
and conditioning agent dosages.




Conditioning and Dewatering 151

5. Rotaiy Press

The rotary press is a recent development in biosolids dewatering. Biosolids are

pumped into a peripheral channel that has walls made up of rotating filter elements.
As the mechanism rotates, compression is created and liquid is forced through the
filter elements. Cake is formed in the interior channel and extruded. The rotary press
is depicted in Figure 3-8 [ 161.
The rotary press is a continuous dewatering process; therefore, ancillary
equipment would be similar to that required for belt filter presses and centrifuges.
Polymer conditioning is a necessaiy step for proper dewatering via rotary press. The
machine requires relatively small floor space and is available in several sizes and in
single- or multiple-channel arrangements.

Static Mechanlcal



6. Screw Presses

Screw presses are manufactured as low-pressure, inexpensive machines for smaller

installations when high solids concentrations are not required, and as large, high-
pressure machines that produce high solids concentrations.
The low-pressure unit is typically mounted vertically, either trailer mounted or
as a permanent installation. Typical solids concentrations on municipal biosolids from
low-pressure screw presses are 8- 15%.
Horizontally mounted, high-pressure screw presses are typically used for
dewatering fibrous materials such as pulp and paper sludge [17]. High-pressure
screw presses are not widely used in the wastewater industry.
152 Kukenberger

D. Passive Dewatering

1. Conventional Dtying Beds

D y n g beds for municipal biosolids dewatering have been designed and constructed
with many variations, including:

0 Open sand beds

Open paved beds with and without drainage channels
* Covered sand and paved beds
0 Vacuum-assisted drying beds
Freeze/thaw lagoons and diying beds

A typical covered, paved drying bed is depicted in Figure 3-9

Open For Ins

Ven tlletlon onall

SandJ LPerforated Drain To’ LLiner

Trench Head Of Plant


Diymg beds require larger land area than mechanical dewatering, are generally
more labor intensive, and are subject to weather conditions. Because they are typically
open to the atmosphere, odor control is difficult, and diying beds used in highly
developed areas may result in odor complaints. However, drying beds remain in use
for many municipal biosolids dewatering operations. Diying beds are used in small
communities across the United States and at some large plants in areas where the
weather promotes rapid diying. In recent years, polymer conditioning has been used
successhlly with diying beds to promote liquidsolids separation and faster
dewatering. Mechanical mixing of the biosolids following npplication to the bed is
also being used, especially on larger installations. During the first several hours of
Conditioning and Dewatering 153

drying, the primary mechanism of liquid removal is by gravity drainage. Sand beds
and paved beds with drainage channels are equipped with an underdrain system.
Filtrate is typically directed to the head of the treatment plant for treatment with the
plant's influent. After initial gravity drainage is essentially complete, evaporation
becomes the primary dewatering mechanism. Final solids concentration depends on
the weather conditions and the length of time the biosolids remain on the bed. Final
solids concentration from drying beds can be as high as 80%; however, dust can
become a problem if the solids become too dry.

2. Vacuirin-AssistedDtyiiig Beds

Vacuum-assisted drying beds are constructed of a wedge-wire support system which

allows fieewater to be removed much more rapidly than by gravity drainage. Liquid
biosolids are pumped over the slotted surface, and vacuum is applied to the underside
of the support system to enhance gravity drainage. If consbucted outside, the biosolids
are allowed to continue dewatering by evaporation after free water is removed by
vacuum. Biosolids are typically conditioned with polymers prior to placement on
vacuum-assisted drying beds, allowing rapid removal of the liquid fraction from the

3 , FreezeRiraw Lagoons

Freezehaw lagoons and diying beds have been shown to be effective in dewatering
biosolids and alum sludge generated in water treatment plants [ 181. The freezing and
thawing process separates the liquid and solid fraction, and it is believed that freezing
breaks all walls, allowing removal of bound water after thawing occurs. Mechanical
freezelthaw devices have been developed; however, energy requirements have
prevented development of h s technology; therefore, freezelthaw systems are generally
limited to climates that can support natural freezehhaw cycles.

4. Bag Dewatering

Small treatment plants with wastewater flow rates of less than 200,000 gallons per day
(gpd) can dewater biosolids cost effectively with a bag dewatering system. The bag
system is a gravity dewatering system with no moving parts. Polymer-conditioned
biosolids are pumped into a gravity drainage plenum, which provides initial
dewatering and distribution to the bag chambers. Woven polypropylene bags are
filled with biosolids and allowed to drain by gravity. Filtrate is collected in a pan
placed underneath the bags and returned to the head of the plant. Cycle time is 4 to
6 hours - 2 hours for filling and 2 to 4 hours for drainage. A standard 22-gallon bag
yields approximately 20 pounds of d y solids per bag at about 10-1 2% dry solids [ 191,
154 Kukenberger

Bags can be stacked outdoors for further diying by evaporation to as high as 60%
solids concentration. Figure 3-10 depicts a bag dewatering system.

,- Levd Probe

Overllow -



Odor-producing compounds released from municipal wastewater biosolids include
inorganic gases, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, and organic gases, such as indoles,
skatoles, mercaptans, and nitrogen-bearing organics. A list of odor-producing
compounds in biosolids is included in Table 1-8. Hydrogen sulfide (H,S) is the most
prevalent odorous gas associated with domestic wastewater. Hydrogen sulfide is
produced during anaerobic decomposition of the organic matter in wastewater;
therefore, keeping wastewater and biosolids fiom becoming septic prevents
production of hydrogen sulfide. Organic vapors, particularly mercaptans, are often
produced during conditioning and dewatering. Mercaptans have an extremely low
odor threshold, that is, they are detectable by the human nose at very low
concentrations. Odor thresholds for mercaptans range from 2.9 x I0-j to 1 . 1 x
The odor threshold for hydrogen sultide is 4.7 s 10-4[20]. Mercaptans can create odor
problems at concentrations as low as 20 times less than hydrogen sulfide.
Odor control can generally be classified in three categories: 1) prevention of the
formation of odorous compounds, 2) treatment of odorous gases prior to release to the
atmosphere, and 3) odor modification and masking. Prevention of the formation of
odorous compounds is accomplished by chemical addition to the liquid stream,
maintaining aerobic conditions and good housekeeping. Chemicals added to liquid
biosolids to reduce odors include hydrogen peroxide (H,O,) and potassium
permanganate (KMn04) [20]. These chemicals are strong oxidizing agents that react
with H,S to form non-odorous compounds.
Conditioning and Dewatering 155

Masking of odors is accomplished by replacing or overwhelming an

objectionable odor with a more pleasant one. This approach of adding "perfume" does
not solve the problem and should not be considered as a permanent odor control
Collection and treatment of odorous gases from biosolids processes is generally
required at treatment plants located in populated areas. The production of H,S,
mercaptans, and ammonia is unavoidable, and the low odor threshold associated with
many odorous compounds leads to odor problems and complaints from nearby
Collection of odorous gases requires enclosure of biosolids handling and
treatment units, or containment within a building. To reduce air flow rates and odor
treatment unit sizing, and for worker comfoi-t, it is beneficial to contain odorous gases
when possible. Containment can be accomplished by enclosing handling and
treatment units and utilizing systems that are self-contained.
For example, odor containment and control was an important selection criteria
for dewatering and conveying equipment at the Yonkers Joint Treatment Plant
(YJTP), Westchester County, New York. Centrifuges were favored over open
dewatering units, such as BFPs and filter presses, and dewatered biosolids pumping
units were selected in lieu of open conveyors. The biosolids dewatering system is
entirely enclosed in buildings, including truck loading bays. Figure 3-1 1 is a
schematic of the odor containment and control system at the YJTP.
Odor treatment systems for biosolids dewatering and handling include:

Wet scrubbers (pack tower and mist type)

Activated carbon adsorption


156 Kukenberger

r Alr DlstrlbutlonZone

Alr Discharge Polyethylene Liner J LDrsln

Pipe (Vpical) Clay Cut Off Wall pipa


Wet scrubbers use a chemical solution to remove odors from the odorous air
stream. Selection of chemicals for wet scrubbers should be based on the odorous
compounds to be removed. The most common scrubbing solutions are sodium
hypochlorite and potassium permanganate with water. Hydrogen peroxide, ozone, and
proprietary chemical solutions are also employed. Adjustment to pH may be
beneficial with some chemicals; therefore, acid and alkaline solutions may be provided
with wet scrubbers.
Activated carbon adsorption can be employed as the primary odor treatment
system, or as a polishing step. When used as a polishing step, a bypass may be
provided so that the carbon is only used when necessary, thereby extending the life of
the carbon bed. Carbon adsorbs a wide range of odorous compounds; however, due
to the non-selectivity of carbon, the capacity of the carbon can be prematurely
exhausted due to the adsorption of non-odorous hydrocarbons [20].
Biofilters use bacteria naturally present in soil and compost to biodegrade
odorous compounds. Biofilten can be custom designed (in ground) filters, as depicted
in Figure 3-12, or manufactured units [2 I]. Custom designed biofilters should meet
the following criteria:

Collect leachate by sloping the bed floor and using a liner and collection
system with n drainage pipe fitted with a valve or water trap to prevent
leakage of untreated air through this pipe
Prevent leakage around the perimeter of the bed and along the air supply
pipe by estending the active media past the edge of the air distribution
zone and using a flange or other device around the air supply pipe as it
enters the biofilter
Specify corrosion resistant air supply duct work and piping
Evaluate the method and frequency of media replacement
Conditioning and Dewatering 157

Provide a water supply for surface sprinklers and an inlet air humidifier
Use geotextile fabric between the active media and the air distribution
zone to prevent migration of fines
Provide condensation drainage holes, as necessaiy, in the air supply piping
Avoid surface compaction by keeping equipment and vehicles off the bed

- during construction and operation

Maintain perfoimance through regular operator attention to bed conditions
and maintenance

Combustion oxidizes odorous compounds with direct flame oxidation or catalytic

oxidation. In direct flame oxidation, the odorous air is mixed with combustion air at
temperatures of 480 to 815°C (900-1 500°F) [EPA]. In catalytic oxidation, a catalyst
causes oxidation to occur at lower temperatures and in the absence of a direct flame.
The odorous air is preheated to 3 15 to 480°C (600 to 900°F). Catalytic combustion
is not well understood, but generally occurs in three steps: adsorption on the active
surface, oxidation, and desorption of the reactant products. Catalytic combustion is
only recommended when the concentration of odorous compounds is greater than
1,000 ppm. Catalytic combustion is more widely used for removal of organics from
industrial processes [EPA].
Other odor treatment systems include adsorption on activated alumina
impregnated with potassium peimanganate and woodkhips with iron oxide, and
oxidation with ozone. These systems can be manufactured package systems or custom
designed systems for specific applications. With less common systems, pilot testing
should be performed to assure that the odorous compounds can be removed and to
develop design and sizing criteria.


Two case studies are presented in this chapter:

1. Westchester County, New York High Solids Centrifuge Dewatering Facility -

Yonkers Joint Treatment Plant
2. Onondaga County, New York Belt Filter Press Dewatering Facility - Syracuse
Metropolitan Treatment Plant

The Yonkers Joint Treatment Plant (YJTP) dewatering facility in Westchester

County is a 60 d ~ yton per day system constructed in 199 1 to replace ocean disposal.
This facility processes biosolids produced by the 120 mgd Y JTP and several smaller
County treatment plants. Figure 3- 13 is a schematic of the biosolids processing
system at YJTP. Primary solids are gravity thickened, and secondary solids are
hckened by flotation. Both solids streams are anaerobically digested and blended in

/ 1 Cmtrlfugam


Lomdlng Hoppore




Conditioning and Dewatering 159

Lime ind
Kln Dlul

Belt Filter
Gravity Anieroblc Stormgo
Thickeners Digesters


Thkksned Digested DrVho and

Elosolids Blosollds
PurnDs Pump8




Cationic Polymer
Six Belt Filter Presses
Feed Solids Concentration 2.37 (1994 Average)
Waste Activated Secondary Solids 60
(% of Total)
Emulsion (1690 Secodyne) I

Dewatered Solids Concentration

35.5 lbdton Dry Solids, as
delivered 35% active
20.8 (1994 Average)
~~ ~~ ~

conditioning Cost ~ $29 (1 995)

Solids Concentration 0.35%

BOD 640 mg/L
Nitrogen 316mglL
Quantity 1.5 mgd

Conditioning and Dewatering 163

storage tanks. Stored biosolids are pumped to a battery of four Sharples DS 706 solid
bowl, continuous feed, scroll-type high solids centrifuges, shown in Figure 3- 14.
Dewatered biosolids drop by gravity into a battery of four Schwing KSP-25V twin
cylinder, hydraulically driven, reciprocating dewatered solids piston pumps. The
d e w a t a d solids pumps discharge to storage hoppers. Storage hoppers discharge by
gravity to a truck loading bay. Dewatered biosolids are currently trucked to a landfill
stabilization facility, followed by beneficial use. The long-term plan will incorporate
trucking to an N-Vir& facility for additional treatment and ultimate beneficial reuse.
Table 3-3 lists the key parameters of the Yonkers Dewatenng Facility.
The average feed rate to each press is 85 gallons per minute at 2% solids
concentration. The BFPs are fed with Robbins & Myers I60 HSI Moyno progressive
cavity pumps (Figure 3-17) from a holding tank. Dewatered biosolids are conveyed
by a serpentine conveyor to an N-Viro@ stabilization process (Figure 3-18).
Stabilized biosolids are applied to agricultural land surrounding the Syracuse, New
York area.


1. Sludge Conditioning,Manual of Practice No. FD- 14, Water Pollution Control

Federation, 1988.
2. W. Strumm and J. J. Morgan, Aquatic Cheniistw, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,
1970, pp. 447,503-507.
3. J. J. Cunnkigham, President, Cunningham Environmental Support, Inc., personal
communication with R. 1. Kukenberger, Blasland, Bouck & Lee, Inc., April
4. S. K. Dentel, M. M. Abu-Orf, and N. J. Griskowitz, Guidaance Manual for
Polynier Selectiori in Wastewater Treattiient Platits, Project 9 I -1SP-5, Water
Environment Research Foundation, 1993.
5. Operationatidhfaitiretiance of Sludge Dewatevitig System, Manual of Practice
No. OM-8, Water Pollution Control Federation, 1987.
6. J. J. Saraceni, Onondaga County Department of Drainage and Sanitation,
Memorandum to Blasland, Bouck & Lee,Inc., Subject: metro sludge dewatering
facility operating data, and personal communication with R. J. Kukenberger,
April 1995.
7. S. K. Dentel and M. M. Abu-Orf, WEW: Full-scale evaluation of available
sludge conditioning control technologies, #AC943805, presented at the Water
Environment Federation 67th Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago,
Illinois, October 14- 19, 1994.
8. Andritz PolyScan, Automated control system for sludge dewatering operations,
manufacturer's literature, Andritz Ruthner, Inc., Arlington, Tesas, 1994.
164 Kukenberger

9. S. Benitez, A. Rodnguez, and A. Suarez, Optimization technique for sewage

sludge conditioning with polymer and skeleton builders, Water Resources,
28:10, pp. 2067-2073 (1994).
10. Characteristics of thermally treated sewage sludge, Technical Bulletin 2302-T,
Zimpro Inc., Rothschild, Wisconsin, December 1978.
11. Alfa Laval Thermal, Spiral heat exchangers save up to 25% on sludge disposal
costs, manufacturer's literature, Alfa Laval Thermal Inc., Richmond, Virginia.
12. Blasland & Bouck Engineers, P.C., 201 Facilities Plan Anienclrnent, Madison
Metropolitan Sewerage District, Volume I1 - Technical Memoranda, February
13. Design ofhlunicipal Wastewater Treatment Plants, Volume 11: Chapters 13-20,
Manual of Practice No. 8, Water Environment Federation and Manual and
Report on Engineering Practice No. 76, American Society of Civil Engineers,
1992, pp. 1 148-1250.
14. E. A. Retter and R. Schilp, Solid-bowl centrifuges for wastewater sludge
treatment, presented at the Filtech Europa 93 Conference, Karlsruhe, Germany,
October 19, 1993, reprinted in Filtvafionci! Separalion, June 1994.
15. A. Davarinejad and N. Voutchkov, Comparison of high solids centrifuge
performancefor digested and undigested solids dewatering, Proceedings of WEF
Specialty Cotlference, June 1994, Chapter 7, pp. 47-56.
16. The Rotary Press, A new solution to all your dewatering problems,
manufacturer's literature, Les Industries Fournier Inc., Black Lake, Quebec,
17. Andritz, A Dewatering Profile, manufacturer's literature, Andritz Ruthner, Inc.,
Arlington, Texas.
18. C. S. Martel, Fundamentals of sludge dewatering in freezing beds, Water-Science
Technology, 28: 1, p. 29 (1 993).
19. L. Craig and B. Sheker, In the bag: a small flows option, Operations Forum,
March 1995, pp. 22-25.
20. Odor and Corrosion Control in Sanitary Sewerage System and Treatment
Plants, Design Manual, 625/1-85/018, USEPA, October 1985.
21. R. W. Frachetti and R. J. Kukenberger, Biofilters for odor control, Operations
Forum, 1 1 :4 (1 994).
22. T. Lauro, Deputy Director, Wastewater Treatment, Westchester County
Department of Environmental Facilities, personal communication with R. J.
Kukenberger, Blasland, Bouck & Lee, Inc., April 1995.
Kenneth J. Snow

Corporate Environmental Engineering Inc.

Worcester, Massachusetts


A. Introduction

Digestion typically refers to biological digestion of biosolids, either aerobic or

anaerobic. Digestion of solids generated from wastewater treatment processes has
been employed as a means of stabilization, volume reduction and pathogen reduction
for many years. The primary objectives of stabilizing biosolids in the recent past was
dependent on the regulations which governed the method of ultimate disposal such as
IandfX, ocean dumping, incineration, or land application. Of these disposal options,
land application has typically been considered more of a beneficial use than the other
optionsbut the old regulations, 40 CFR Part 257, did not provide a clear definition of
beneficial use.
Options for the method of disposal are decreasing. Landfills are filling up and
permitting of new landfills has become very expensive. Several states have banned
landfilling of sludges and Congress has banned ocean dumping. In addition,
implementation of advanced treatment of wastewater over recent years has generated
even more biosolids.
As a result, the current objectives for many municipalities, for digestion and
other methods of biosolids treatment, is to accomplish beneficial use as defined by the
40 CFR 503 regulations, published February 1993.

166 Snow

Biosolids generated fi-om municipal wastewater treatment plants typically

originate fiom primary clarification and " s e c o n w biological processes such as
trickling filters, rotating biological contactors, and activated sludge. Grease,
skimmjng and grit are usually disposed of separately and are not processed with the
other biosolids. In addition, many municipal wastewater treatment plants accept
residential septage via tanker trucks. Septage is introduced at a variety of locations
in the treatment process train such as influent headworks, gravity thickeners, or
digesters. Chemical addition to the wastewater process and methods of tertiary
treatment contributes to the volume and varying characteristics of biosolids. Alum
addition for phosphorus removal, polymer addition for e n h a n d solids separation and
activated carbon addition for removal of a variety of substances are examples. The
biosolids are often thickened prior to digestion.
Digester configurations have been fairly standard over the past fifty years.
Anaerobic digesters are typically two-stage concrete cylindrical covered tanks with
conical bottoms. The biosolids are normally pumped into the first stage tank,where
the contents are mixed and most of the digestion occurs. The displaced solids
overflow into the second stage where the solids are thickened via settling and are then
removed for disposal. The supernatant is generally directed back to the wastewater
process for furthertreatment Aerobic digesters are generally open top tanks equipped
with diffused or surface mechanical aerators. The shape of the tank is usually dictated
by the selected method of mixing andor aeration. They are often equipped with some
means of decanting to provide some degree of thickening. Again, the supernatant is
usually directed back to the wastewater treatment process.
Fairly recent improvements (in this country) to digestion processes are generally
directed toward increasing efficiency, reducing maintenance, and meeting the new 503
Regulation pathogen and vector attraction reduction criteria. The improvements

Egg-shaped anaerobic digesters which have improved efficiency and

sigtufhntly reduced maintenance primarily by modifying the reactor
Autothermal Thermophlic Aerobic Digestion (ATAD) which is more efficient
than conventional aerobic digestion and increases the degree of pathogen
Pre-stage ATAD, which is used upstream of anaerobic digesters to accomplish
pathogen destruction to meet Class A 503 regulation criteria, is typically
retrofitted into existing plants employing anaerobic hgesters.

In addition, a pasteurization step can be added to the above digestion processes

which can further enhance pathogen reduction and, in some cases, produce a higher
class bimlids end product. Pasteurization is not considered biological digestion and
discussion will be limited on this process.
Digestion 167

For new digester installations,process selection depends on ultimate use (Class)

of the biosolids (dependent on marketability), volume of biosolids to be processed and
economics. When reb-ofitting the digestion process of an existing treatment plant, the
existing equipment, structures and process configuration must be taken into
consideration to take economic advantage of previous investments.

B. Process Fundamentals

1. Aerobic Digestion

Bacteria growth in a batch reactor can be represented by Figure 4-1. The aerobic
digestion of biosolids originating from biological processes such as activated sludge
is primarily endogenous, i.e., microorganisms consuming their own protoplasm. This
is represented by the "death" phase portion of the growth curve. When biosolids from
primary settling are introduced, the organic material is first oxidized resulting in the
growth of new cells represented by the "growth" phase of Figure 4-1. The
microorganisms are oxidized to water, carbon dioxide, and ammonia in accordance
C,H,NO,(Cells)+SO, = 5C0,+2H20+NH,.





a. Mesophilic Aerobic Digestion

In conventional (mesophilic) aerobic digestion, the ammonia is further oxidized

to nitrate. A maximum of about 75 percent of the microorganism cell can be oxidized
as the remainder of the cell is inert material or organics which cannot be biologically
The operation of a conventional aerobic digester is fairly simple provided
equipment design and layout is not a hindrance. The operator needs to maintain
sufficientdissolved oxygen (typically no less than 1 - 2 mgA throughout the reactor),
mixing, and residence time. In addition, decanting or drawing off the supernatant after
30 to 60 minutes of settling will provide a thicker end product which will reduce
power andor chemical requirements for subsequent treatment such as dewatering.
Scum removal, foam control and odors or treatment of off gas may also need to be
addressed depending on equipment configuration.
Dissolved oxygen can be monitored using a portable meter with a probe which
can be lowered into the reactor. Adjusting blower or surface aerator speed can be
used to minimize power consumption.
Adequate mixing can be penodically checked by simply probing the tank bottom
to feel for solids which have been deposited or use of a velocity meter which can be
lowered into the reactor. A velocity of 2 to 3 feet per second is usually adequate.
Often the aeration equipment is also used to provide mixing. Depending on reactor
configuration, either mixing or dissolved oxygen concentration will govern equipment
Laboratory tests such as the percent of volatile reduction, specific oxygen uptake
rate, and biological testing, may be used to determine the required residence time. The
actual monitoring and testing requirements will be based on compliance with the 503
regulations and the ultimate disposal method.
Decanting, if the process is so equipped, to thicken the biosolids is usually
conducted prior to andor after the digestion period. Decanting is usually used when
a batch process scheme is employed. The method of decanting is dictated by
equipment configuration. Thickening following digestion, as a separate process, is
also common.

b. Theimophilic Aerobic Dipestion

Autothermal thermophilic aerobic digestion (ATAD) is aerobic digestion under

thermophlic conditions (4OoCto SOOC). The term autothermal is used to describe this
technology because no outside heat source is required. The organic decomposition
duing digestion releases heat and maintains the thermophilic operating temperatures
(typically 55'C), provided the reactor has adequate insulation. The ATAD process has
several benefits over conventional aerobic digestion [I]:
Digestion 169

hgh biosolids treatment rate.

Decreased reactor volume.
More effective pathogen reduction.
More effective vector attraction reduction.
Higher volatile solidsreduction resulting in reduced downstream equipment

The ATAD process can effectively produce biosolids that exceed EPA Class A
pathogen reduction criteria. It can also consistently meet the specific oxygen uptake
rate and volatile solids reduction U.S. EPA 503 vector attraction reduction
requirements. Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion is a Process to Further Reduce
Pathogens (PFRP), as defined in the U.S. EPA 503 regulations. The ATAD process
can meet the PFRP definition [ 11.
ATAD digestion systems are typically two-stage processes with mixing, aeration
and foam control equipment. Single stage systems can provide similar volatile solids
destruction but cannot destroy pathogens to the same degree. Figure 4-2 illustrates a
typical ATAD system configuration. Pre- and post- thickening is usually employed.
The Fuchs system (Germany) is the most common system and design and operational
parameters discussed below are generally based on this process configuration. Typical
design parameters are listed in Table 4-1 [2].


1 1 /




Key design and process requirements include biosolids feed at 4% to 6%

solids with a minimum of 2.5% volatile suspended solids. Biosolids at less than 4%
solids may not allow sufficient heat generation to achieve thermophilic conditions.
Biosolids at greater than 6% may prevent adequate mixing or oxygen transfer. Heat
170 Snow

p h t i o n is typically between 14,200 and 14,600kjkg 0, and oxygen requirements

are 1.42 kg O@g volatile suspended solids. The thermophilic temperature range
inhibits nitrificationand the associated oxygen demand. Temperatures should be kept
below 65OC to prevent resolublizationof organics [11.

Parameter Range

Feed Total Solids 4%-6%

Feed Volatile Solids 2.5% min.
Detention Time 5 6 days
Temperature 35-50°C Reactor 1
50-65°C Reactor 2
Air Input/m’ Reactor Volume 4 m’h

The reactors typically are conical with flat bottoms.If grit is not removed in an
upstream process, it may accumulate in the reactor and it may be necessaq to provide
a conical bottom or other means to facilitate cleaning or prevent deposition.
The method of operation of the ATAD system dictates performance, especially
with respect to pathogen destruction, and establishes sizing criteria for biosolids feed
pumps and gravity flow lines. Biosolids are fed in batch once per day. The solids feed
volume, typically ane third of a single reactor volume, should be delivered in less than
1 hour.This allows about 23 hours per day of undisturbed digestion needed to attain
high pathogen destruction.
The sequence of batch feeding is as follows:

s Stop aerationhmag and transfer digested solids fiom the second reactor to the
r Transfer solids fiom the first to the second reactor.
r Transfer feed solids into first reactor and start aeratiodrnixing.

The above sequence prevents parually treated biosolids fiom reinoculating the
final stabilized product.
The ATAD process generates foam during digestion. It has been speculated that
foam provides some insulating value, improves oxygen utilization, and enhances
Digestion 171

biological activity. Cuyent designs provide for foam control as opposed to elimination.
The foam bubbles are reduced in size, using foam cutters, which provides a denser
foam. A freeboard of 0.5 to 1.0 m in the reactors should be allowed for foam.
Thickening of the digested biosolids is generally desirable prior to transport for
ultimate reuse. It should be noted that the sludge must be cooled (possibly in a storage
tank) prior to using gravity thickening since thermal convection currents result in poor
Normally, some storage of the digested biosolids will be needed to accommodate
removal and disposal fi-equencies. Uncovered tanks equipped with mixers but with no
aeration will not result in objectionable odors if mixing occurs daily for at least an
hour and ifthe biosolids are fully stabilized. Reactivation of pathogens or reinfection
has not been a problem using the above equipment and procedures.
Experience has shown that some odors are generated from the ATAD process
and may, depending on receptors, require treatment. Odors will be more objectionable
should the process be overloaded resulting in incomplete stabilization or if storage
tanks are not mixed daily as previously mentioned.
In general, aerobic digestion can, depending on design and equipment selection,
have the following advantages over anaerobic:

Impact to the wastewater treatment process is reduced due to lower strength

@OD) supernatant recycle.
Resulting biosolids dewater better.
Less potential for odors and safety hazard due to explosive gases.

Does not produce methane which is a useful by-product.
Supplying oxygen generally results in higher power cost.

2. Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion can be described as a multistage process where microorganisms

break down various types of organics into simpler organics which are further
converted by other types of microorganisms into even simpler organic compounds and
CO,, KO,C Q , and Q S . In the first stage, the biosolids, which are made up of
complex organics, lipids, l i p n s , proteins, and cellulose, are broken down into organic
acids, alcohols, ammonia and carbon dioxide. The first stage products are broken
down into hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and low molecular weight organic acids during
the second stage. The microorganisms responsible for this conversion are referred to
as “acid formers.” During the third stage, acetate, carbon dioxide and hydrogen are
converted to methane and carbon dioxide and water. Two types of “methane-forming”
bacteria are responsible for this third stage; the first converts carbon dioxide and
172 Snow

hydrogen to methane (CH,) while the second type converts acetate to methane and
carbon dioxide. Refer to Figure 4-3 for a schematic description.
The thrd stage is generally considered to be rate limiting since methane-forming
bacteria grow more slowly than the acid formers. In addition, the methane formers are
also more sensitive to pH. The pH must range between 6 and 8, otherwise, un-ionized
volatile acids (below pH 6 ) or un-ionized ammonia (above pH 8) is toxic to methane
The operation of a typical two stage anaerobic digester is somewhat more
complicated than an aerobic digester. A number of parameters must be monitored:






Digestion 173

- Alkalinity
Volatile solids loading
Gas production
Volatile acid concentration

The methane-foiming bacteria are very sensitive to pH and will only h v e

between pH 6.5 and pH 8.5. Therefore, operational monitoring focuses on providing
the appropriate environment to keep these bacteria viable. Overloading with feed
biosolids is a typical problem with anaerobic digesters. When the feed rate of volatile
solids in the incoming sludge increases, the acid forming bacteria grow rapidly and
produce more acids than the methane forming bacteria can digest. As a result, the
excess acids lower the pH to the point where the methane formers can not function and
the process stops. To help ensure the pH will remain in the proper range, alkalinity is
also monitored. Generally, a range of between 2,000 to 3,500 mg/l CaCO, is
In conjunction with pH and alkalinity, volatile acid concentration should be
monitored. Typically, the range of volatile acids is from 50 to 300 mg/l for well
digested sludge.
The optimum value of the above parameters which provide for the most efficient
digestion will vary with different types of sludges. Therefore, the operator must
monitor and track the results to determine the optimum range for each parameter.

C. Equipment Review

1. Aerobic Digestion

Equipment used for aerobic digestion of biosolids must be able to provide thorough
mixing and sufficient dissolved oxygen. Tank geomehy, aeratodmixer location, and
suspended solids concentration are factors which affect oxygen transfer and mixing
efficiencies. Scum removal, foam control, decanting of supernatant and off gas control
must also be considered.

Conventional Aerobic Digestion

Conventional aerobic digestion equipment designs have included a variety of tank

geometries. It is usually dependent on the type of mixing and aeration equipment
selected. Conventional aerobic digesters are often open top rectangular concrete tanks,
sometimes with sloped bottoms to facilitate solids removal and cleaning, into which
biosolids are pumped. The liquid level in the digester varies as biosolids are
introduced or removed.
174 Snow

Mixing and aeration equipment can be designed as independent devices to

accomplish mixing or aeration, as a single piece of equipment to accomplish both
mixing and aeration or various combinations of both. All mixing and aeration
equipment both mix and aerate but may be designed with a primary function as one
or the other. There are many types of aeration/ mixing devices available.
Equipment designed primarily for mixing would include

Turbine or impeller type mounted on a vertical shaft driven by a surface mounted

Pumps which draw liquid from one part of the reactor and discharge to another
part in a manner to promote circulation.

Equipment designed primarily for aeration in conventional aerobic digesters

include mechanical surface aerators and diffused aerators.
For diffised aeration, an external blower delivers air to a diffiser located near
the bottom of the digester. Positive displacement blowers are often used when the
liquid level in the digester is designed to rise and fall. Diffusers are categorized by the
orifice size which detemiines the size of bubble produced; fine bubble or course
bubble. Course bubble d i h s e r s are nomially used since the high concentrations of
solids tends to clog the fine bubble orifices more rapidly. Diffisers can be mounted
on a "swing" arm pipe header to allow lifting out of the digester or can be mounted to
the digester floor. As air is blown through the diffiser, small bubbles form providing
a large aidliquid interface to promote oxygen diffusion and transfer. The action of the
air rising also induces mixing. Mixing can be enhanced by strategic location of
diffusers to develop circulation currents. The blowers can have variable speed dnves
or two speed motors to optimize energy consumption.
Mechanical surface aerators are usually constructed of a partially submerged
impeller driven by a vertical shaft connected to an electric motor. The degree of
impeller submergence is usually critical so the liquid level in the digester must be
controlled or fixed when the aerator is rigidly mounted. As an option, the surface
aerator can be mounted on floats allowing it to rise and fall with the liquid level. As
the impeller rotates, the liquid is "sprayed" radially outward. The turbulence and
formation of small liquid droplets cause a large airfliquid interface which promotes
oxygen transfer. Depth of submergence, often controlled by adjustable weirs on the
digester outlet, and variable or dual speed motors allows control of power usage.
Equipment designed to provide both mixing and aeration include:

Static aerator
Mechanical aspirator
Venturi aspirator
Digestion 175

Static aerators are rigidly mounted, usually in a grid pattern, across the floor of
the digester. Static aerators are usually cylindrical tube-shaped, vertically mounted and
air is introduced into the bottom to the tube. A series of baffles and the current induced
by the rising air draws the liquid into the base of the tube, mixes it, and discharges
from the top. U x i n g and aeration are controlled by adjusting air flow to the static
Mechanical aspirator type mixeiherators are manufactured in a variety of
configurations and are selected bascd on digester geometry, location within the
digester and the size and shape of the effective mixing zone. Generally, the equipment
consists of an impeller mounted on a hollow shalt which rotates at high speed. The
rotation ofthe impeller creates low pressure which draws in (aspirates) air.
The venturi type mixerherator employs a pump which directs the liquid through
a venturi device. Air is drawn in to localized low pressure, and the discharge stream
is directed such that the force of the stream promotes mixing. The discharge can be
submerged or discharge above the liquid level, depending on the application.
Conventional aerobic digesters typically use plant water sprayed through a series
of nozzles across the top of the liquid. The spray breaks up the foam but has the
disadvantage of adding "dilution" water to the biosolids.
Decanting is typically conducted by shutting off the mixing and aeration
equipment and allowing the solids to settle. The relatively clear supernatant is then
drawn oE. Telescopic valves, submersible pumps that can be raised and lowered into
the liquid, and multiple draw off lines at various elevations along the tank wall are
some of the more common configurations used to decant and thus thicken biosolids
before or after digestion.
In some cases the digesters are covered and the off gas is directed to some type
of treatment such as intake to blowers providing air to aeration basins, scrubbers, or
activated carbon canisters. Off gas treatment is usually to control odors.

Autothermal Thermonhilic Aerobic Digestion

ATAD digesters are relatively new and equipment types in use are limited. The ATAD
reactor installations are usually insulated cylindrical aboveground steel tanks which
are fully enclosed. Steel is cumently less expensive than concrete but retrofitting
existing concrete tanks may be desirable.
The efficiency of aeration and mixing equipment is of particular concein in the
thermophilic process in order to minimize the heat loss from the reactor through air
exhaust. The Fuchs ATAD system, which is one of the more common, uses the
aspirator type mixer/aerator described above. The CBI Walker, Inc. system employs
the ventun type mixedaerator with exteinal liquid recirculation. The biosolids are
pumped from the top third of the reactor through a venturi where air is drawn in and
discharged back into the reactor near the bottom. This system also has the ability to
176 Snow

recirculate air from within the reactor head space to the venturi aspirator which can
be used to slow down the biological oxidation should temperatures become too great.
Foam is generated in ATAD reactors. As previously discussed, foam control, not
elimination, is desirable. Foam cutters are typically set at a specific height above the
liquid level. An impeller, which can be mounted horizontally or vertically, rotates and
the blades “cut”the foam, reducing the bubble size, making it more dense and less
Various foam control, mixing and aeration equipment are available from several
manufacturers, some of which are proprietary. Babcock, CBI Walker, Fuchs, Limus,
and Thieme are some of the manufacturers. Odor control equipment to treat the off
gas from the reactors will, in many situations, be needed. Depending on state
regulations, air peimits may be required.

2. Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion must take place in reactors which are sealed from the atmosphere.
Covered cylindrical concrete tanks have been the most frequently designed. More
recently, egg-shaped digesters are being designed and installed and offer improved
efficiency and reduced maintenance. The digester equipment must provide for mixing,
scum and grit removal, foam control, off gas handling and heating.
Conventional cvlindrical dipesters employ a variety of covers to seal the contents
from the atmosphere which maintains anaerobic conditions, collects useful gas,
minimizes odors,provides insulation, and prevents explosive mixtures of air and gas
from forming. Covers are either floating or fixed. Floating covers offer several
advantages; prevention of the formation of excess pressure or vacuum or drawing of
air into the digester during transfer of digester contents and, in some instances,
minimizes scum/foam accumulation because the cover rests directly on the liquid
surface. There are a variety of cover types available.
Conventional anaerobic digesters are equipped with a variety of mixing devices
including gas recirculation and mechanical mixing methods [3]. The major gas
recirculation mixing systems include:

sequentially discharged lances

floor mounted diffusers
draft tubes
bubble guns

Each requires some type of compressor. Gas recirculation usually promotes

foaming problems. Mechanical mixing typically consists of a motor, drive shaft and
propeller combination or a recirculating pump. Propeller mixers can be mounted at
various locations throughout the digester but most are used with draft tubes to direct
flow. The recirculating pump mixer withdraws biosolids from one or more locations,
Digestion 177

sometimes through a draft tube, and discharges through nozzles at the digester wall.
The nozzles direct the flow to induce a circulation pattern.
Convention digesteis are not typically equipped with grit, scum or foam removal
devices. Mixing is usually relied upon to prevent accumulation. Many digesters
experience problems as a result and must be cleaned every 3 to 8 years [3].
Anaerobic digesters generate methane which can be used as fuel to provide heat
to maintain proper operating temperatures of the digester contents andor building
heat. External hot water heat exchangers are frequently used to heat the digester
contents. The gas is commonly used to fire hot water boilers or as a primary fuel for
reciprocating internal combustion engines. Gas collection equipment includes flame
traps, pressure relief valves, check valves, waste gas burners, accumulators and
k - s h a D e d digesters (ESD) have eliminated the shaip transition along the
digester wall and reduced the liquid surface area at the top. The ESD offers a number
of advantages over conventional digester configurations which are primarily a result
of the modified shape and combination of mixing methods:

Mixing, provided by gas injection, propeller or pump in combination with a

central draft tube, is very effective in concert with the shape of the EDS. The
mixing energy is lower which results in operating cost reduction. Combinations
of these mixing methods can be employed. The thorough mixing improves
digestion efficiency by better substrate/microorganism contact and elimination
of "dead" zones.
Grit accumulation is eliminated by the shape of the ESD and thorough mix
systems. Eliminating the cleaning of grit, the lost volume due to accumulated
grit, and the associated cost and down time improves efficiency and economics.
Scum/foam accumulation can be effectively controlled as a result of the limited
liquid suface and operation of the central draft tube mixer in the down mode.
In addition, a scum chute at the top of the digester allows removal of
accumulated floatables if needed. Eficiency and economics are improved for the
same reasons as stated for grit accumulation.
Generally, the footprint is smaller and there is usable space below the digester.

Figure 4-4 illustrates a ESD in schematic form which is based on the CBI
Walker, Inc. design. The mixing system shown utilizes a jet pump with a.draft tube
assembly. The valves and heat exchanger are not shown for simplicity. The jet pump
can discharge into either the top or the bottom of the draft tube. This promotes
blending of either floating or settled materials with the remainder of the digester
contents. The jet pump directs the motive fluid into one end of the draft tube which
draws in additional liquid. This mixes liquid which is taken from different locations
within the digester, resulting in a more homogeneous mixture. This pump system
eliminates moving parts from within the digester. In place of the jet pump, a
178 Snow






\ \

1 1



Digestion 179

mechanical mixer (propeller) can be located near the top portion of the draft tube. This
mixer also mixes the contents fiom top to bottom. Compressed gas is not used in
either configuration which minimizes foaming problems.

D. Economics of Digestion

One of the primary factors in selecting a digestion process is the ultimate disposal or
use of the biosolids, i.e., production of Class A or Class B end products. This must
be determined first so the appropriate methods of digestion can be compared on an
economic basis.
Conventional aerobic digestimcannot reliably meet Class B pathogen and vector
attraction reduction criteria when digesting primary and secondafybiosolids at typical
retention times [7]. In some cases, achieving Class A or B end products is not
requued, yet it still may be economical to do so as illustratedby the study conducted
by the Grand Chute-MenashaWest Sewerage Commission [5].
In 1993, the Grand Chute-MenashaWest Sewerage Commission conducted a
cost comparison between conventional anaerobic digestion with gas mixing and
ATAD. The upstream wastewater process included primary cl&ers followed by
activated sludge at an average design flow of 5.2 MGD. The schematic arrangement
fop the two digestion process is shown in Figures 4-5 and 4-6 located in the following
section The cost for the digestion process, excluding thickening, dewatering, and odor
control, are as shown below.

CAPITAL $2,455,000 $1,270,000
Power $ 5,000 $ 60,Ooo
Labor $ 52,500 $ 35,000
Parts & Supplies $ 15,000 $ 15,000
Digester Heat $ 15,000 $
TOTAL 0&M $ 87,500 $ 110,Ooo

To meet Class A standards, a comparison between ATAD and ATAD followed

by anaerobic ESD can be made. The cost has been found to be within 10% for
facilities treating five to eight MGD. The ATAD followed by anaerobicESD will be
more economical at larger facilities.
180 Snow

For Class B product, the cost to digest biosolids from wastewater facilities
treating between three to five million gallons per day (MGD) is about the same for
ATAD and anaerobic ESD. Digestion costs at smaller facilities will generally be
lower using the ATAD process. This is primarily due to capital cost of some
equipment, such as gas monitoring and safety, in anaerobic systems which change very
little with changes in digester size.
Life cycle costs are very important when conducting a comparison between
processes. Labor cost associated with operation are about the same for all three
processes. However, energy costs are about half the cost for systems which utilize
anaerobic digestion. The reduced energy cost combined with the energy production
potential makes the anaerobic digestion process more attractive for the larger facilities.
Utilization of the ATAD system with anaerobic digestion hrther enhances the energy
producing characteristics of the anaerobic system.
Capital cost comparison between methods of digestion presented below will be
limited to the more advanced processes, i.e., autothermal thermophilic aerobic
digestion (ATAD), anaerobic digestion utilizing Egg-Shaped Digesters (ESD), and
aerobic thermophilic followed by anaerobic ESD. Biosolids characteristics and
volume generated from a typical municipal secondary treatment facility will be a
common basis of comparison.
The capital cost information on the following pages has been provided by CBI
Walker for their AutoThermm (ATAD), ESD, and AeroThennTM(ATAD followed
by ESD) systems [S].
In developing the three different designs and associated capital cost, a new
facility is assumed. Each of the costs are based on the same design information and
assume a site in the Midwest with open shop construction forces for the field erection.
The cost estimates provided for the three designs were developed by comparing
information from recent (1995) projects with an accuracy of about 10% to 15%.
Other factors which have an impact on the cost estimates are the site location, time of
year in the field, final design of the system and its components, system layout and the
existing facility.
Regardless of the system preference, one should consider life cycle costs when
malung a final selection of a system. The ATAD ( AutoThermTM)system is the least
capital cost for the design example. However, as an aerobic digestion process, the
ATAD system is an energy consuming process. The ESD system is an anaerobic
process and therefore is an energy producing process. While the ATADESD
(AeroTheimm) system includes an aerobic process, it is utilized with anaerobic
digestion to produce a two stage digestion process. This results in a net energy
production similar to the anaerobic digestion process.
Digestion 181


APRIL 1995



Plant Design Flow Rate - 2.0 MGD (Current)

4.5MGD (Future)

Sludge Design Flow Rate - 8,100 GPD (Current)

18,300 GPD (Future)

Design Loading - 3400 #/Day Solids Loading (Current)

7600 #/Day Solids Loading (Future)
5% Feed (Assumed Design)
75% Volatile Solids

Present Facility - Activated Sludge Facility

45% Primary
55% Secondary
No Existing Sludge Treatment System


Reactor Design - 3 @ 39,600 Gals. Capacity, Each

Reactor Detention - 6.5 Days @ Future Design Flow
Air Injection - Aspiration Through Venturi Effect
Mxing Requirements - External Pump Recirculation
Heating Requirements - External Heat Not Required
Energy Requirements - 150 k W l 0 0 0 Gals. (Raw Feed Sludge)
Sludge Storage - 1 Vessel @ 370,000 Gals.
Detention Time - 20 Days @ Future Design Flow
Energy Requirements - 5 k W l 0 0 0 Gals. (Raw Sludge Feed)
182 Snow


APRIL 1995

1. System Effective Footprint FT2

50' x 120'

2. Site Work: $ 475,000.00

- Control Building
Concrete Foundation

3. Tankage: $ 880,000.00

- Vessels
Insulation System
Stair Tower
Access Walkway & Platforms

4. MechanicalElectrical Process Equipment (Installed): $1,150,000.00

Mixing System

- Air Injection
Pumps & Valves
Process Piping
Instrumentation & Control
Process Engineering
Start-up Service

5. Vent Air Odor Control System (Installed) $ 50,000.00

6. Miscellaneous $ 245,000.00

TOTAL COSTS $2,800,000.00

Digestion 183


APRIL 1995



Plant Design Flow Rate - 2.0 MGD (Cuirent)

4.5 MGD (Future)

Sludge Design Flow Rate - 8,100 GPD (Current)

18,300 GPD (Future)

Design Loading - 3400 #ma:<Solids Loading (Current)

7600 #R?ySolids Loading (Future)
5% Feed (Assumed Design)
75% Volatile Solids

Present Facility - Activated Sludge Facility

45% Primary
55% Secondary
No Existing Sludge Treatment System


Digester Design - 1 @ 4 10,000 Gals. Capacity Vessel

Digester Detention - 22 Days @ Future Design Flow
Mixing Design - External Pump Recirculation
Heating Requirements - 432,OO BTU/HR
Energy Requirements - 15 LWH/lOOO Gals. (Raw Sludge Feed)
Gas Production - 15 FT’/#VS Detroyed
Methane Content - 60% Methane
Gasholder - 500 FT3
Sludge Storage - 1 Vessel @ 370,000 Gals.
Detention Time - 20 Days @ Future Design Flow
Energy Requirements - 5 k W l 0 0 0 Gals. (Raw Feed Sludge)


APRIL 1995

1. System Effective Footprint 4950 FTZ

2. Site Work: $ 580,000.00

Concrete Foundation

3. Tankage: $1,540,000.00

0 Access Walkway & Platforms

4. MechanicaVElectrical Process Equipment (Installed): $ 720,000.00

Mixing system
Heating System
pumps & valves
Process Piping
Gas Safely Equipment
Instrumentation & Control
Process Engineering
start-up service

5. Gas Storage (Installed) $ 40,000.00

500 FT' Capacity

6. Miscellaneous $ 280,000.00

TOTAL COSTS $3,160,000.00

Digestion 185


APRIL 1995


Plant Design Flow Rate - 2.0 MGD (Current)
4.5 MGD (Future)
Sludge Design Flow Rate - 8,100 GPD (Current)
18,300 GPD (Future)
Design Loading - 3400 #/Day Solids Loading (Current)
7600 #/Day Solids Loading (Future)
5% Feed (Assumed Design)
75% Volatile Solids
Present Facility - Activated Sludge Facility
45% Primary
55% Secondary
No Existing Sludge Treatment System


Reactor Design - 1 @ 19,800 Gals. Capacity
Reactor Detention - 26 Hours @ Future Design Flow
Air Injection - Aspiration Through Venturi Effect
Mixing Requirements - External Pump Recirculation
Heating Requirements - 360,000 BTU/HR
Energy Requirements - 20 k W 1 0 0 0 Gals. (Raw Sludge Feed)


Digester Design - 1 @ 278,000 Gals. Capacity Vessel
Digester Detention - 15 Days @ Future Design Flow
Mixing Design - External Pump Recirculation
Heating Requirements - Included in the ATAD Design Summary
Energy Requirements - 10 k W l 0 0 0 Gals. (Raw Sludge Feed)
Gas Production - 15 FT31#VSDetroyed
Methane Content - 65% Methane
Gasholder - 500 FT’
Sludge Storage - 1 Vessel @ 370,000 Gals.
Detention Time - 20 Days @ Future Design Flow
Energy Requirements - 5 k W 1 0 0 0 Gals. (Raw Feed Sludge)
186 Snow


APRIL 1995

1. System Effective Footprint 6ooo FT'


2. Site Work: $ 530,000.00

4 Control Building
4 ExcavationBacMill
4 Concrete Foundation

3. Tankage: $1,460,000.00
ATAD Vessels
Anaerobic DigesterIStorage Vessels
Insulation System
Stair Tower
Access Walkway & Platforms

4. MechanicalElectrical Process Equipment (Installed): $ 950,000.00

Mixing System
4 Air Injection System
4 Heating System
Pumps & Valves
4 Process Piping
4 Gas Safety Equipment
Instrumentation & Control
4 Process Engineering
4 Start-up Service

5. Vent Air Odor Control System $ 20,000.00

6. Gas Storage (Installed) $ 40,000.00

500 FT3 Capacity

7. Miscellaneous $ 300,000.00

TOTAL COSTS %3,300,000.00

Digestion 187

When developing the life cycle costs, the following should be addressed:

1) Manpower Both systems will require about the same manpower for operation
of the process.

2) Energy The ATAD (AutoTherm) system utilizes about 150 k W 1 0 0 0

gals. of raw sludge feed per day. The ESD system utilizes about 15
k W 1 0 0 0 gals. of raw sludge feed per day. The ATADESD
system utilizes about 20 k W 1 0 0 0 gals. of raw sludge per day.
Both the ESD and the ATADESD system will produce about 15
fi’ of gasAb volatile solids destroyed.

3) Solids The volatile solids reduction for an aerobic digestion system

Reduction has been characterized to be within a 40%-50% range. Anaerobic
digestion is typically expected to be within a 45%-55% range.

Many times there will be other factors to consider which may be more or less
tangible for a given project. Some things worth considering include the type of
wastewater facility and location. Northern climates with low volatile waste sludge
may require additional heat for the ATAD system. This will drive up the capital cost
and make the process less attractive for a given project. Warm climates may also be
more favorable to the ATAD system due to little need for heat in the winter and no
desire to use cogen as a means for reducing electrical costs.


Several studies have been conducted which compare conventional anaerobic digestion
to the more recent aerobic and anaerobic thermophilic processes. More specifically,
the ATAD and thermophilic anaerobic processes were evaluated during two studies
summarized below [5][6].

1. ATAD vs. Convenlional Anaerobic Digestion

The Grand Chute Menasha West Wastewater Treatment Facility, Wisconsin, a

medium sized facility with projected flows of 5.2 MGD for the year 2010, was
constructed in 1983 and was in need of expansion and upgrade. Specific biosolids
process for pathogen and volatile solids reduction were the focus of concern and could
not be met using the existing gravity thickenindaerobic digestion process.
The planned liquid process train includes fine screens (0.635 cm opening),
vortex type grit removal, primary clarification, activated sludge, ferric chloride
addition to the secondary process for phosphorous removal and UV disinfection. The
ia8 Snow

projected biosolids from the primary clarifiers and waste activated sludge process
assume 50% suspended solids removal as the primary clarifier, 0.6 kgkg BOD
removed in the activated sludge process and a 30 mg/l dosage of fenic chloride.

Primary Secondary Ferric

Solids Solids Chloride Total
Annual Avg.
(kdday) 1,954 1,549 1,077 4,580
Max. Month
(kg/day1 2,344 1,796 1,322 5,462





Digestion 189

rn iuir




Parameter ATAD Anaerobic

Present worth cost 23% less --
Safety No explosive gases GeneratesMethane
Mechanical Simplicity -- Has floating covers, and
gas handlinglsafety
Odors None if well Has odors
operated .
Tank Size 6 day hydraulic 25 day hydraulic
retention time retention time
Quallfy for PFRP I Yes I No I
The process flow schematicswhich are the basis for the comparison between
anaerobic digestion and ATAD are shown in Figures 4-5 and 4-6.
190 Snow

In this study, the ATAD process for solids treatment was selected over
conventional anaerobic digestion. The ATAD process was evaluated to be less
expensive for both capital and operation and maintenance, safer, mechanically simpler,
less odorous, smaller with respect to tank sizes and able to qualify for PFRP. Table
4-4 presents the advantages and disadvantages.

2 . Thennophilic Anaerobic vs. Conventional Anaerobic Digestion

The Greater Vancouver Regional District conducted full-scale thermophilic anaerobic

digestion testing to determine if a Class A sludge, based on pathogen density criteria
could be achieved.
This experiment was conducted at the Lion's Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant
which is a 20.5 MGD average diy weather flow with primary treatment only. The
primtxy sludge feed into the digesters during the experiment ranged between 130 and
160 m3/day at an estimated 5% solids. Two of the existing four digesters, operated in
series in contmuous flow mode, were used for digestion. These two digesters provide
a retention time of 20 days each. The remaining two digesters were used for storage
of digested sludge prior to dewatering.
The experiment intended to operate only the first digester at the thermophilic
temperature of 55" C at a retention time of 20 days. This far exceeded the Part 503
process requirement for Class A combination of time and temperature:

D = 50,070,000/10 0 ~ 1 4 L


D = Retention Time in Days

t = Temperature in Degrees C

Using the above formula, only 1 .O days retention time is required at 55°C.
No provisions were made to cool the biosolids between the first and second
digester. Consequently, the temperature of the second digester rose to 47°C which
resulted in poor pei-foimance. To correct this problem, the temperature of the second
digester was raised to 55°C. The process then stabilized and concentrations of fecal
colifoim in the second stage digester were sustained below Class A levels of 1,000
MPN per gram total solids for several months. The fecal coliform concentrations in
the first stage digester were not below Class A levels.
Several important conclusions andor observations can be identified based on
this study:
Digestion 191

0. Single stage continuous feed thermophilic (55°C) anaerobic digestion of primary

sludge with a retention time of 20 days was unable to meet Class A pathogen
*. Two stage continuous feed thermophilic (55°C) anaerobic digestion of primary
sludge with a retention time of 20 days in each stage is able to meet Class A
pathogen levels.
0. Modification of existing mesophilic continuous feed digesters to achieve
thennophilic operation may be economically attractive depending on marketing
options for biosolids.
0. Si@icant odors from subsequent dewatering process are likely. Odor control
should be planned.


1. M. Poeckes, D. Oerke, M. Maxwell, S. Rogowski, and I-I. Kelly, Evaluation of

the Autotheimal Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion (ATAD) Biosolids
Stabilization Process to Meet the New EPA 503 Requirements, Proceedings of
the WEF Specially Coilference, Washington D.C., June, 1994.
2. U. S. EPA, Autotheimal Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion of Municipal
Wastewater Sludge: Environmental Regulations and Technology, EPA 625110-
90/007, September 1990.
3. Anaerobic Sludge Digestion, IYEFMmiral of Practice No. 16.
4. G. Balog, K. L. Nelson, and M. A. Patel, Back River Egg-Shaped Digesters:
Technology-Transfer Adapts German Approach to Wastewater Solids Digestion,
Proceedings of the WEF Specially Conj&wice, Washington D.C., June, 1994.
5. T.E. Vik & J.R. G k , Evaluation of the Cost Effectiveness of the Auto Thermal
Aerobic Digestion Process, Proceedings of WEF 66111 ilriti~alCorlferetice,
6. G. Volpe, B. Rabinowitz, C. Peddie & S. Krugel, Class A (High Grade) Sludge
Process Design for the Greater Vancouver Kegional District Annacis Island
Wastewater Treatment Plant, Proceedings of IVEF 66th Atitiiral Corference,
7. G. Shmp, J. Sandino and R. ShamsKhoizani, Peifoimance of Aerobic Digestion
in Meeting the 503 Requirements for Pathogen and Vector Attraction Reduction,
Proceedirigs of die WEF Specialty Cotlferetice, Washington D.C., June, 1994.
8. J. Currie, P.E., CBI Walker, Inc., Aurora, Illinois, Personal conversation
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Lewis M. Naylor

Black and Veatch

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Too often scientists r e b on their sophisticated instrumentation and computers and

not on their unique abiliv to reason. Linus Pauling

Biological decompontionis as ancient as the existence of organic matter on the earth.
With division of the firstcell and germination of the first seed, amino acids making up
proteins and glucose links in cellulosic chains initiated the first step toward chemical
and biological breakdown, returning to the earth nutrients and energy for other life
forms. This natural process of cleansing the surface of the earth enabled life as we
h o w it to exist today. It is the first step in the process of composting.
Without the natural decomposition of dead organic materials, recycling of the
nutrients and the biochemical energy in the carbon contained in organic matter would
be slowed dramatically. While periodic fires could rapidly release such energy and
nutrients, organic matter production vastly exceeds the scale of the land area for
decomposltimof organic matter involved in fires. Without this natural decomposition
process, dead organic matter would accumulate at the rate of about 15 feet of depth
each millennium. Human beings have walked the earth for a million years or so,and
plant life has existed much longer. Thus,just since humans began to walk the surface
of the earth, dead organic matter in the absence of decomposition would have
accumulated to a depth of nearly 3 miles.
Cornposting is a natural process of aerobic, thermophilic microbiological
de@m of organic wastes into a stabilized, useful product that is free of odors and
pathogens, w ill not attract rodents and insects, and can be used beneficially for
horticultural and agricultural purposes. During this process the waste is stabilized
biologically. This means that the readily biodegradable components of a mixture

194 Naylor

of organic materials being composted are stable or resistant to change biologically.

Wastes are broken down sufficiently that further decomposition is very slow and
does not cause problems during use of the material. Such problems could include
odors, attraction of flies, or regrowth of pathogens.
Virtually all carbonaceous, biodegradable materials are compostable under
suitable environmental conditions. Such conditions are essentially those favorable
for microbial growth: appropriate moisture content, an aerobic environment, and
biologically available carbon for energy and nitrogen for growth and reproduction
of the microbial population. The blended feedstock to be composted should
contain about 40% dry solids (60% moisture), a balanced nutrient (nitrogen) and
energy (biodegradable carbon) supply. The aerobic process should supply periodic
mixing to improve the contact between food and microorganisms and increase the
rate of stabilization.

A. Growth of Composting in the United States

Beginning in the 1950’s and continuing through the 1960’s enthusiasm exceeded
the reality of operations and the demand for mediocre quality compost in the
United States. The chief problems were unrealistic economic expectations, poor
compost quality, and process failure. Facilities started up with a notion that the
value of the finished compost would pay for operations and capital cost of the
system. Alas, neither the demand nor the price of the compost met expectations
and nearly all facilities from that era failed, or at least hesitated severely. This
rough start placed a gloomy shadow on composting as a viable, economic
alternative to landfilling and combustion. However, in the last 10 years or so the
industry has matured and composting is perceived as a legitimate, engineered
technology with wide scale opportunities for recycling organic residuals.
We can get a notion of the growth of the composting industry, chronicled
annually since 1985 by BioCycle, Journal of Composting and Recycling. In
December of each year BioCycle publishes a summary of composting activities in
the United States. Data show that in the decade since 1985, the number of compost
facilities in all stages of development has grown from 173 to 3 18 [7][8]. Of these
facilities, the number in construction, desigdpermitting, planning/consideration,
pilot operation, and those shut down has remained relatively constant. The
remarkable growth has been in the number of operational facilities, their number
having grown from 79 to 20 1.
Of the operational facilities in the United States, the largest growth in terms of
number of facilities is the aerated static pile, growing from 49 to 99. In terms of
the percentage increase, the in-vessel facilities have grown by a factor of 15. In-
vessel type systems can be divided into vertical silo type reactors, agitated bed
systems, tunnel reactors, and rotary drum units. In 1985, there were 3 operating in-
vessel composting systems, all of the silo type, with an additional 11 silos or
Composfing 195

agitated bed facilities in some phase of construction or start-up. By 1994,45 in-

vessel systems were operating or in construction. Of these were 26 agitated bed
facilities, 15 silo type reactors, 3 rotary drums, and 5 tunnel reactors.
Compost quality and marketing strategies have likewise improved markedly.
The horticultural industry has shown a profound recognition of the value of
compost as a soil amendment. Increasingly compost is specified by landscapers
and architects. University research has more fully defined the value of compost to
impart disease resistance for container crops, field plantings, and turf grass.
Market surveys for compost suggest two quite different markets: a high
volume market (Figure 5-1) and a high dollar market (Figure 5-2) [ 151. The high
volume market, estimated at nearly 900 million cu. yd. by The Composting
Council, is based almost entirely on marketing compost to agricultural crops. In
contrast, the high dollar value is based on marketing a high quality product
supported by technical staff. Customers use directly or resell the compost in bulk,
bags, or with a horticultural product such as turf grass sod or a shrub. Obviously,
both markets are important. The market targeted for a specific composting
program will dictate to a large extent the range of ingredients selected for the
compostable blended feedstock and the post-processing required.


The overall goal of composting is to produce a high quality compost using a

technology that is protective of the environment. When the focus is on the
production of a quality product, the facility will remain open, the process will
succeed and the compost will be readily marketable. This goal is so important that
it precedes all others as the foundation of a successful project. Basically, there are
three requirements of quality compost.

A. Chemical Quality

Compost produced must meet the proscribed standards of the environmental

regulatory community. The primary standards are those of state and federal
regulators. For compost containing biosolids, these would include standards
promulgated by the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency as part of the U.S. EPA
Part 503 Rule, discussed at length in Chapter 2 [24]. Those standards which were
developed through a risk-based approach assure that the compost would be safe
enough to eat, though few would look forward to such an opportunity. The
standard for lead content of biosolids products, for example, is based on a child
consuming minute quantities of biosolids daily for several years. Thus, achieving
the regulated chemical standards assures not only the manufacturer of compliance,
but also the ultimate compost user of a virtually risk-free product.
196 Naylor

Landfdl cover Reclamation Sod production Silviculture Agriculture

Fig. 5-1 The potential high volume market for composted materials. [15]

lo 1


Landscapen Topsoil Bagsed Container Field

Fig. 5-2 The potcntial high value market for compost. [ 151
Composfing 197

B. Biological Quality

While the presence of certain metals is of concern in compost used without

restriction by the general public, the presence of pathogens may be of more
practical significance. Toxic effects of most metals become apparent only after
many years of exposure through ingestion. In contrast, the presence of biological
pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and protozoa can be immediate and
uncomfortable. Achieving conditions which assure complete pathogen destruction
during composting is essential to meeting not only the regulatory requirements, but
also to protecting the most sensitive of compost users.
An infective dose of pathogenic organisms over time is generally required for
healthy persons, but certain sensitive individuals may respond differently. As an
example, a mother and son bring home several bags of a composted biosolids
product. The mother begins to work the compost into her flower bed, while the son
using his toy dump truck faithfully delivers the compost to each appointed plant.
All the while he is sucking on a piece of hard candy, which he allows absent
mindedly to fall out of his mouth into the toy truck load of compost. The young
lad glances surreptitiously at his mother and quickly picks up the piece of candy
and pops it back into his mouth. Compost manufacturers need to consider this
young lad as the person they are protecting as they monitor the conditions required
to meet highest standard of pathogen reduction.

C. Customer Requirements

The final standard the compost manufacturer must meet is the one established by
the customer. For the most part, such standards are not reviewed by regulatory
bodies, but they are equally important to marketing the finished compost.
Customers have requirements that relate both to their perception of what compost
ought to be, such as color, texture, and aroma, as well as how the compost performs
in a growing medium, e.g. pH, salinity, and nutrient levels. The compost must
meet such requirements, which will vary enormously between customers, or the
compost will not be readily marketable.
Thus, the three goals of compost quality are to meet chemical quality,
biological quality, and client requirements. When these goals are achieved, the
composting process will be effective and the compost will be readily marketable.


Composting is a living process and proper care and feeding of the active microbial
community is essential to good composting.
198 Naylor

A. Microbial Community

The microbial community does not consist of a single type or even a single group
of organisms. Rather, many different types of bacteria and fungi play important
roles in the decomposition of the organic matter. The conditions produced by one
population of organisms establish the character of the food and the working
environment of a subsequent group.
The formation of compost is a natural, but extremely complex biochemical
process in which cellulosic materials, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are
decomposed and transformed into a humus-like material. The vast and immensely
diverse population of fungi, protozoa, and bacteria initiating this process grow,
reproduce, and die as environmental conditions in the composting materials
change. Cell contents and cell walls of these organisms are decomposed by
successive generations of microbes, contributing to the humus content of finished
compost, along with the non-degradable or slowly degradable fraction of the input
feed-stock. This is the final stage in the production of the finished compost, a
living fertilizer and a marketable product.
Complex carbohydrates and proteins are degraded into simple sugars and
amino acids by bacteria and fungi. Temperatures rise into the thermophilic range
in the moist composting environment, cooking and softening organic matter
particles and enabling physical break-down of the material. With physical
degradation, new surfaces are exposed expanding the available food and supporting
a larger microbial population. As the most easily degradable materials decompose,
woody materials remain in predominance. These materials which consist of layers
of cellulose bound by glue-like lignin are degraded by fungi. As the intense
biological activity diminishes, temperatures gradually decrease and the composting
materials begin to dry, forming conditions suitable for increasingly complex groups
of fungi. While the composting process never grinds completely to a halt, the
process is so slow that physical and chemical changes in the materials become
noticeable only over months. The compost at this stage is ready to use, and with
plant growth the recycling of nutrients and energy continues.
Four general physiological groups of microorganisms are active within the
temperature range found commonly in well-managed composting processes. As
illustrated in Figure 5-3, these groups are psychrophiles, mesophiles, facultative
thermophiles, and thermophiles. Psychrophiles grow or tolerate in temperatures
found in a northern climate, -5 to 35°C. Mesophiles thrive on temperatures found
in the tropics, about 15 to 45°C. Facultative thermophiles tolerate temperatures
from room temperature, 25"C, to that of scalding water, 60°C. Finally,
thermophilic organisms tolerate very high temperatures ranging from 45 to 75 "C,
well into the range at which food can be cooked and milk pasteurized. In general,
growth rate increases with temperature, as illustrated in Figure 5-4. However, the
relationship is not linear within any one physiological group over its entire
Cornposting 199

temperature tolerance range. Each group can survive throughout its temperature
tolerance range, but thrives within its preferred range.






20 Facultative
10 Mesophiles

-1 0
Physiological groups



While growth rate of individual organisms increases with temperature, fewer

individuals of the population thrive. As noted in Figure 5-5, the total number of
cells produced by a physiological group diminishes as temperature increases.
Within the mixed culture of the compost heap, all physicological groups are
present. As each group's activity diminishes because of temperature sensitivity,
the next most heat tolerant takes over the decomposition labor. At some point,
however, even the thermophiles struggle with the heat and this heat stress begins
to reduce the rate of the composting process. The overall objective of temperature
control is to maintain a temperature that accommodates the maximum number of
organisms with the greatest average biological activity.
Similar to other living organisms, the composting microbial population has
certain requirements for growth and reproduction. Metabolic activities of the
organisms reflect environmental conditions as they vary from optimum to tolerable
to intolerable.
200 Naylor

Regremion line:
Rate, Ill,hr = 0.0438 + 0.016 x T.C


0 5 10 15
20 25
Temperature, .C



psychrophllla Baclllus sp.

Cornposting 201

B. Environmental Conditions

Conditions which a compost facility operator must pay close attention to are
temperature, oxygen levels, and moisture of the cornposting materials.
The optimum temperatures for composting are in the range of 35 to 65°C.
Microorganisms that efficiently drive the composting process will be most active
within this temperature range. As noted previously, mesophilic and thermophilic
bacteria and fungi predominate at various stages within the composting process.
The growth dynamics of celluloyticbacteria and fungi (those microbes which break
down cellulose) during composting of organic waste is shown Figure 5-6. As the
composting and curing process continues, more and more microbial activity must
be directed at decomposition of the lignin and cellulose in the relatively non-
biodegradable woody products. Since fungi tend to be more proficient at lignin
decomposition their population continues to increase, whereas the bacterial
numbers decline.

V I I I . ~~ I I I

0 10 20 30 40 50
Time, days


202 Naylor

Sufficient oxygen must be present in the composting mixture to sustain the

needs of the aerobic bacterial population. Five to 10 percent oxygen will generally
suffice for aerobes. However, measurement of oxygen concentrations within the
bulk compost pile can give misleading results. Oxygen levels within the center of
large, non-porous clumps may drop to zero even while reading 10% oxygen within
the bulk pile. Simple forced air or suction aeration of a compost pile can be
inadequate when the composting material tends to stick or clump together.
Physical turning and abrasion to break up the clumps is generally beneficial to
assure good oxygen penetration throughout the entire composting mass.
Moisture levels in the composting materials must be maintained at about 40
to 50% to support the physiological systems of the compost microbes. Cell walls
must be permeable to the flow of soluble nutrients into the cell by osmosis.
Enzyme systems must be able to function properly. While complete desiccation
can cause gradual decline and complete cessation of biological activity, reduction
of moisture content in the compost will reduce the composting efficiency and
restrict the active organisms to those more tolerant of low moisture. As with the
case for temperature, excessively low or high moisture contents of a composting
mixture can impair the composting process by forming conditions that favor the
growth of organisms less efficient in the degradation process.
For example, if the mix is excessively wet, poor oxygen penetration is likely
because of voids being plugged with water. Formation of very low oxygen
conditions can enhance the survival of acid-forming bacteria that can decrease the
pH of the composting materials. The acids formed, termed volatile acids because
they readily vaporize, possess an odor some find unpleasant. Such is the case for
the formation of vinegar (acetic acid) and other volatile longer-chain,more odorous
acids formed in a pile of fermenting apples.

C. Nutritional Considerations

All living organisms have fundamental nutrient needs: carbon (C), nitrogen (N),
phosphorus (P), sulfur ( S ) , trace nutrients, and minor amounts of vitamins. Water
discussed above is likewise a nutrient solvent and carrier as well as an
environmental requirement.
The basic raw materials or feed-stock used and metabolized during composting
are composed of cellulosic materials (polysaccharides), proteins (sources of
nitrogen and sulfur), and sugars, fats and carbohydrates (energy sources).
Polysaccharides are essentially polymers or long chains of glucose sub-units with
the formula (-C6H,205-). Proteins are composed of various amino acids, also
linked to each other in long chains. A common chemical form of an amino acid is
(R-CH(NH,)-CO-NH-). Some of the amino acids also contain sulfur. These
materials make up the diet of the composting organisms which must be balanced
nutritionally for optimum composting.
Cornposting 203

Appropriate and balanced amounts of such nutrients are generally present in

a heterogeneous composting mix containing material such as food waste, biosolids,
source separated organic waste, leaves and yard waste. However, the ratio of
certain nutrients, notably carbon and nitrogen, can be out of balance for certain
types of mixes.
Carbonaceous and nitrogenous compounds are important to living organisms
as a source of energy (biodegradable carbonaceous compounds) and protein
(biodegradable nitrogenous compounds) for growth and reproduction. During
composting, these microbes metabolize 15 to 30 parts of carbon for each part of
nitrogen. This is true for organisms as large as a dairy cow to those as small as the
decomposer bacterial cell. While balancing a feed ratio for a Holstein may need
to be more precise, the blended feedstock for composting facility must be adjusted
for the relative amounts of carbon and nitrogen. Thus, a compost facility operator
must consider himself to be a microbial nutritionist as well as manager of
environmental conditions within the cornposting materials.
The compost process manager should have access to a variety of materials to
balance the nutrient and moisture content of the blended feed stock. In general,
the ratio of biodegradable carbon to biodegradable nitrogen (the C:N ratio) in a
blended compost feedstock is suggested to be about 20 to 40 for good composting.
Organic wastes such as biosolids tend to be moist and nitrogen rich, relative to their
content of carbon, with C:N ratios of typically 5 to 10. Materials such as sawdust
used as amendments, in contrast, tend to be dry and carbon rich. Sawdust has a
typical carbon to nitrogen ratio of about 200 or more. Since the blended feedstock
should have a C:N ratio of about 20 to 40, mixing these two materials together
balances the moisture content as well as the carbon to nitrogen ratio.
The relatively wide, acceptable C:N ratio range is indicative of two things: 1,
the enormous dietary flexibility within the heterogeneous microbial community
(How many of us weigh out our protein, fiber, and energy components each day?),
and 2, the dearth of research to enable understanding of the biodegradability of
various feedstocks and the consequences of improving the precision of the
optimum C:N range.
Carbon is combined with organic matter, and can be estimated from the
organic matter content because of the relative uniformity of organic matter
composition. Organic matter is the principal component of the volatile solids of
a material. An ingredient in a compostable mix consists of a liquid fraction, i.e.
water, and a solid fraction or dry matter, as depicted in Figure 5-7. Most analyses
express the composition of compostable materials as a percentage of dry matter.
A proportion of the dry matter consists of minerals with the remainder making up
organic matter which is combustible. This combustible fraction is considered to
be volatile since it can be burned off, and is named volatile solids. The mineral
residue, or ash, is often referred to as futed solids. Since carbon is a portion of the
organic matter, percent carbon in a material can be estimated indirectly from its

organic mattercontent. A varietyofratioshavebeenused to estimate the

proportion of carbon in organic matter.The values for percentage carbon insoil
organic mattervary h m approximately to 58% estimate commonly
used is about 55.6% of organic matter is carbon, based on data nearly ahalf century
Evaluating the nitrogen content of materialsis generally straightforward and
accurate. Most feeds and forage laboratories, as well as environmental testing
laboratories have provisions to test materials for total kjeldahl nitrogen
ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. The total kjeldahl nitrogen content includes organic
nitrogen, that bond with organic matter, and ammonia. In general, the TKN does
not include all of the nitrate and nitrite in a sample, and these anions must be
analyzed separately, usuallyin the liquid phasefiom leaching a sample. However,
in terms of composting process and feed stock control, nitrate and nitrite content
is not very important. TKN concentrations in individual components range from
5,000 to 60,000 mg/Kg, whereas the concentration nitratehitrite combined is
generally less than100 mg/Kg.


composting 205

The operator can evaluate the C:N ratio of his compostingmaterials reasonably
well hthe weight and percentage composition and once the blended feedstock has
begun to compost. Unforhmately, at this point adjustingthe mix is nearly impossible.
As mixtumlow in carbon, e.g. C:N < 20,begin to compost, the compostingprocess
is likely to be accompanied by the loss of excess nitrogen as ammonia because of the
proportionally large amount of nitrogen. Conversely, mixtures deficient in nitrogen,
e.g. C:N > 40, tend to compost slowly, and have poor heat generation. From an
operator’s perspective, some ammonia aroma should be evident during composting
and the mix should heat up well. However, if very high concentrationsof ammonia
are released, causing eye irritation or breathing difliculty, then the operator should
know that the C:N ratio is too low and adjust the proportion of biodegradable
carbonaceous materials in subsequent batches. Experiencx is a pow& teacher of
compost process managers.


C c n n w g as a non-biological process is essentially a materials handling exercise.
This includes managing moisture, particle size, biodegradability, and porosity. These
properties control to a large extent the efficiency of gaseous exchange within the
composting materials, heat output and temperature achieved.

A. Types of Solids

Materials to be composted consist of dry matter and water. The dry matter, or dry
solids @S), consists of organic matter and minerals. The organic matter is
combustible and can be burned off or volatilized, leaving the mineral fraction or ash,
Figure 5-7.
The ash or fixed solids (FS) consist of minerals including calcium (Ca),
magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), iron (Fe), manganese (Mu), and trace metal
compounds. The anion moiety of the metal compounds include carbonates (CO?),
bicarbonates (HCO;), sulfates (SO:-1, phosphates (PO:- ), nitrates (NO; ), and other
auions. The carbonates and bicarbonates help buffer the acidity and alkalinity of the
cOmpOShng materialsby reacting reversibly with the carbon dioxide produced during
the composting process.
The combustible fraction or volatile solids (VS) is correlated highly with the
organic matter cunteslf and reliably indicates the organic matter content of a material.
A portion of the volatile solids is biodegradable (BVS). This ffaction can be further
broken down into thosematerials that are readily biodegraded, e.g. biosolids and food
waste, and those that are slowly biodegraded such as woody materials.
For many operators, little clarity exists regarding biodegradability of
206 Naylor

carbonaceous materials and fibrous materials. In fact, even at the research level
there is much to be learned and taught regarding biodegradability and factors
influencing biodegradability of organic wastes. As a consequence, operators use
their best judgment until corrected by experience. In general we can judge several
high nitrogen, fairly biodegradablematerials, Table 5-1, to include biosolids, spring
and early summer grass clippings, and certain fresh animal manures without
bedding. Highly biodegradable, carbonaceous materials include shredded leaves,
fruit and vegetable waste, and apple pomace. Two practical approaches to
assessing the biodegradabilityof organic materials are to consider their digestibility
by animals and humans and to recall their disappearance in garden compost piles
or when worked into the soil and broken down by soil microorganismsand macro-
invertebrates. Respirometry has been used to experimentally judge
biodegradability. In this experimental method, a substance is allowed to
biodegrade under known conditions of temperature and pressure, and either oxygen
absorbed or carbon dioxide evolved is measured during a specific time period. The
oxygen absorbed or carbon dioxide evolved is a function of the conversion of
bound carbon to carbon dioxide.

B. Particle Size

Particle size is one of the most important physical properties of the composting
materials. Both the physical size and distribution of the particle sizes are important
to porosity of a compostablemix. The more uniform in size the materials in a mix,
the greater the porosity of the mix. Conversely, as the heterogeneity of particle
sizes widens, the porosity decreases. Small particles fill the voids between larger
particles, Figure 5-8, restricting the flow of water and gaseous exchange.
Most composting technologies now include mixing of the composting mass
because developing a uniform particle size is difficult to achieve under even the
best of conditions for most composting facilities. Grinders and shredders, unless
followed by screens to grade the product, produce a very heterogeneous material
with coarse particles and chips to fine dust and grit. Regular mixing of a blended
feedstock with a broad particle size range ameliorates some of the negative effects
of low porosity by exposing the entire pile of material to the atmosphere.

1. Porosity

Reduced porosity can have a number of undesirable effects during the composting
process. To maintain an aerobic composting environment, thorough exchange of
oxygen and carbon dioxide must take place. As the porosity increases, exchange
becomes more efficient. Heating and cooling are likewise important control
parameters. In active compost piles, heat generated can produce temperatures
too high for efficient composting. Air flowing through the composting materials
Cornposting 207

Uniform particle size

Heterogeneous particle sizes




Drganic Material Resources DS, %I I I
C:N ratio Biodegradability.

Apple pomace [20] 20 - 35 48 H >75%

Fruit waste 10 - 25 43 H 775%
Vegetable waste 10 - 25 28 H > 80%
Mixed food waste & paper 25 - 35 14 H 55 %
Fruit and vegetable materials 54 22 H 75 %
(a%. 1

Mixed paper 80 - 95 177 L 20 %

Newsprint 95 924 L 20%
Corrugated paper 90 - 95 427 L 20 w
Waxed milk cartons 90 - 95 560 L 20 w
Cornposting 209

Organic Material Resources DS, % C:N ratio Biodegradability'

Paper food cartons 90 - 95 300 L 20 %
Junk mail 95 226 L 20 %
Paper and paper products 95 324 L 20 %

IBacteria IC5H702N I 4.29 I

Fungi C 1OH 1706N 8.57
Wood C295H4200186N 253.0
Grass C23H380 17N 19.7
Garbage C 16H2708N 13.7
Food wastes C 18H26010N 15.4
Mixed paper C266H4340210N 228.0
Yard wastes C27H380 16N 23.1
Biosolids ClOH1903N 8.57
IRefuse 1 IC64H104037N I 54.9 I
IRefuse 2 IC99H148059N I 84.9
I Biodegradability, expressed as % of volatile solids, estimated. I
210 Naylor

will absorb moisture and heat energy, cooling and drying the material. If the air
flow is restricted, cooling may be non-uniform leaving hot spots in the composting
materials which could also become deficient in oxygen. Such hot, poorly aerated
pockets are ripe for odor production when the compost is prepared for use.

2. Biodegradability

Particle size can influence gross biodegradability of a material. Composting is a

surface phenomenon since micro-organismsare active only on surfaces. They have
no way to access, for example, the interior of a wood chip. As the overall surface
area of a given mass of waste increases, the quantity of food available for the
microbes will increase. Hence, the overall rate of conversion of biodegradable
material into biologically stable compost will increase. While the biodegradability
of a material at the molecular level may not vary appreciably with particle size
because the rate of biochemical transformations and enzymatic reactions at a
specific temperature are fKed, a smaller particle size does expand the surface area
for the microbial attack. An expanded surface area enables the support of a larger
number of organisms each of which contributesto the overall biodegradation of the
material. As an example, shredded leaves have a larger surface area and break
down more rapidly than unshredded leaves because a greater surface area is
exposed for degradation.
Conceptually, we may think of the composting materials as spheres. It can be
shown that the surface ( S ) to volume (V) ratio is equivalent to 3/r, where r is the
radius of the sphere. As r decreases the S to V ratio increases. For example, a
sphere with a radius of one cm. has a volume of about 4.2 cu cm and a surface area
of about 12.6 sq cm. The surface to volume ratio will be 3 : 1. If this small sphere
is divided into four equal spheres containing the same total volume as the initial
sphere (4.2 cu cm) ,each will have a radius of about 0.63 cm, a total volume of 4.2
cu cm, but the total surface area will be 20 sq cm. The resulting surface to volume
ratio increasesto 4.7. Now if that one cm. sphere is ground into a 100 tiny spheres,
the surface area to volume ratio will be about 14, with the total surface area
exposed for biological degradation also 14 times as great.
This example also illustrates the importance of regular agitation which
physically degrades lumps that may be present in the raw materials, reducing their
size and increasing their total surface. Increasing the surface area cannot increase
the metabolic rate of the microorganisms in terms of unit weight of material
metabolized per organism per unit of time. The basic biochemistry does not
change. However, the greater surface area exposed does increase the total amount
of food available to the organisms so that greater numbers can be supported. Thus,
the practical impact and advantage of reduced particle size is that the rate of
composting in terms of tons per hour will be increased.
Composfing 211


Living organisms convert food into energy for growth and synthesis of new cells.
This process is not 100% efficient. As a consequence waste energy is produced.
Within the composting process the waste energy appears as sensible heat and is the
basis for warming the composting materials.

A. The Biological Fire

The source of the heat energy within the composting process is the metabolic
oxidation of organic matter into carbon dioxide and water. The heat generated by
the intense biological activity of the organisms is the driving force of the compost
processes. Conceptually,the composting process could be considered a bioLogical
$re. Biodegradable volatile solids are the fuel for this biological fire. Oxygen is
consumed, and metabolic water, carbon dioxide, heat energy, and compost are
produced. The compost produced represents the materials that do not biodegrade
within the time frame of the managed compost process.

Microbes Fuel (biodegradables) + 0, -> Wafer + CO,

+ Energy + Compost (slowly biodegradables) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5-1)

The heat energy may be lost by ventilation or radiation to the atmosphere, or

it may be conserved within the composting materials. Whether lost or conserved,
the heat energy warms the environment and control over the segment of the
environment warmed is the basis for achieving temperature increases within the
composting mass.

B. Heat and Temperature

Heat energy is the capacity to do work, such as warm the composting mass or
evaporate water. Temperature is a sensory measurement. On a personal level, hot
and cold are relative and judged differently from one person to the next. To
increase our objectivity and eliminate personal bias, temperature is measured
against a standard using a thermometer or other recording instrument.
By way of illustration, temperature is comparable to the speed of an object.
Following the same analogy, heat is similar to the momentum of the object: the
speed times the weight of the object. A bird in flight and a moving truck may have
the same speed, but the momentum of the two objects and their relative effects
when they bump into a window of a house is enormously different.
Thus, temperature is not a good basis on which to judge the heat energy
possessed by an object. Heat energy is a function of not only the temperature of
212 Naylor

an object, but also its mass. For example, a bathtub full of warm water contains
more heat energy than a cup of hot tea even though the temperature of the tea is
much higher. Heat energy is quantified by:

Heat energy = mass of an object x heat capacity

x temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5-2)
In this equation, temperature is measured in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Heat energy is measured in joules, calories or British Thermal Units. (The irony
is that Americans are the last major country to continue to use the British Thermal
Unit or BTU on a regular basis.) Heat capacity, or specific heat, of an object is the
capability of that object to absorb or release heat as related to its temperature
change. Specific heat is measured in units of calories per gram per degree Celsius.
Water has a specific heat of one calorie per gram per degree Celsius, or one
BTU per pound per degree Fahrenheit. That means that one calorie of heat energy
will increase the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.
Conversely, one gram of water cooling by one degree Celsius will release one
calorie of heat energy.
Not all materials have the same heat capacity. While water has a heat
capacity of 1.00, wood has a heat capacity of about 0.4, and air 0.25. The dry
matter of compost probably has a heat capacity of about 0.4. Based on the heat
capacities of these three materials, a given amount of heat produced during the
composting process will increase the temperature of the same weight of air the
most, of the compost dry matter the next greatest, and of water the least. One
calorie of heat would increase the temperature of one gram of air by four degrees

heat energy, cal

Temperature change, A " C =
wt. of object, g x heat capacity, ca1lgl"C

T,h 0 C = 1 cal = . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5-3)

1 g x 0.25 cal1gl"C

As the proportion of water in the cornposting materials increases, i.e., the

wetness of the compost increases, more and more energy will need to be generated
to increase the temperature of the composting materials because of the greater
Cornposting 213

capacity of water to absorb heat energy. For a given amount of heat generated, a
smaller temperature increase will be observed. As will be noted later in this
Chapter, this has important implications for the compost process manager since he
is interested in achieving specific minimum temperatures during the composting

C. Temperature Control

Temperatures in the thermophilic range are beneficial to the composting process.

They increase the rate of conversion of biodegradable organic matter into
biologically stable compost. Such temperatures assure rapid stabilization of the
organic matter, and destruction of plant and animal pathogens and weed seeds.
However, the temperature of the composting materials must be managed carefully
to assure optimum environmental conditions for the microbial population.

1. Feedstock Adjustments

It is evident that for a given weight of material, a larger amount of heat produced
will result in a greater temperature rise. One question the compost process
manager must consider is how can the character and composition of that weight
of material be managed to result in the greatest temperature increase. Conditions
influencing temperature change of composting materials include:

a. the heat production capability of the material,

b. the ambient temperature surrounding the composting materials,
c. the moisture content of the composting materials, and
d. the heat losses from the composting materials to the external

Heat production of the composting materials is, as we learned earlier, a

function primarily of the biodegradability, and secondarily, of the particle size of
the composting materials. Any change the process manager can make to improve
the biodegradability of a blended compost feedstock, or of the composting
materials, will enhance the heat output. For a specific material, a smaller particle
size will generally improve the rate of conversion (composting rate) of the bulk
material to carbon dioxide, water, and heat because of the larger surface area
exposed for microbial attack.
Changing the biodegradable character of the input ingredientsto the feedstock
can also enhance heat output. Compost mixes rich in highly carbonaceous, slowly
biodegradable sawdust tend to reduce heat output. In contrast, increasing the
proportion of a highly biodegradable material such as food waste will increase the
heat output. Using the illustration of diet, most of us know what contributes to our

TABLE 5-2 (CONT.) (Q
1 Element Bibb Fried Liver 2.0% Milk Salad Oil Frozen Peas Boiled Raw Spinach White Sugar I
Lettuce Potato
g/100 g dry weight of food, or YOdry basis

216 Naylor

caloric intake and potential weight gain most. Certainly it is not high fiber
vegetables such as celery or lettuce, Table 5-2. Rather it includes sugars, meats,
fats and oils. These have a high digestibility and fats and oils have a high caloric
density. This is not to imply that the process manager should add disproportionate
amounts of fats and oils to the blended feedstock. It does suggest that one can use
common sense in developing a blend of materials of diverse nature so as to enhance
the overall biodegradability and heat output of a compostable mix.
Temperature increases within a composting mass are also a function how the
heat produced is absorbed by the individual components of the feedstock, and
conserved or lost from the composting mass.
Heat energy produced by the biological fire of the composting process is
absorbed by the materials that make up the blended feedstock. Since temperatures
within a well-managed composting mass will be in the range of 40 to 60"C,
everything mixed into the pile will have to be brought to desired composting
temperature, i.e. 55 to 60°C. This includes not just the solid ingredients, but also
all of the air that is added to the mix to maintain aerobic conditions. During hot
weather when ambient temperatures approach 30°C. However, as ambient
temperatures drop, additional energy will be absorbed just to warm up the
composting mass to the operating temperature. For cold weather composting,
particularly in the northern climates where temperatures can fall to - 10 to -2O"C,
considerably more care and thought must be given to blending the compost
ingredients to maximize biodegradability and minimize extraneous heat losses.
Thus, under these cold weather conditions, air used to ventilate the compost may
have to be warmed by 50 to 80°C. The input ingredients will need to be warmed
by 30 to 50°C. If the energy output from the composting process is unable to
match these heat demands, temperatures mandated for pathogen destruction will
not be achieved.
The blend of materials is also important from the perspective of the
proportion of water in the composting materials. As the proportion of water in the
mix increases, the potential temperature rise will decrease because of the greater
heat capacity of water relative to the compost dry matter. With a larger proportion
of water, the ratio between the heat producing fraction (the biodegradable material)
and the heat absorbing fraction (the water) decreases. As a result, during cold
weather the compost process manager should develop mixes that are drier and more
biodegradable than would be needed during warm weather.

2. Facility Design Considerations

Heat loss and conservation is also related to the size of the composting mass and
to the compost technology. In contrast to the desirability of a larger surface to
volume ratio to enhance biodegradability,best heat conservation is obtained with
the lowest surface to volume ratio. For example, in a small compost pile a portion
Composfing 217

of the heat energy will be radiated to the atmosphere and lost, reducing potential
temperature increases in the composting materials. Such would be observed in
many backyard compost piles which tend to be fairly small and not well-insulated
fiom the outside temperature. Larger compost piles a have smaller, heat radiating
surface area per unit of volume than do small piles. In a well-managed composting
facility, heat energy will be conserved within larger compost piles. Compost
within an enclosed composting container or vessel is engineered to minimize heat
loss. Pile depth is managed and container walls can be insulated to optimize
temperature increases.

D. Aeration

Air circulation through the composting materials is an important process control

feature. Aeration cools the vigorously composting material, removes excessive
moisture to produce a product that is readily screened and transported, and
exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide to maintain aerobic conditions within the
composting materials.

1. Temperature Control

Air is circulated through the composting material to maintain the optimum

temperature environment for the microbial composting community. While
sustaining temperatures of 55 to 70°C for several days is needed for assured
pathogen control, such high temperatures are not necessarily advantageous to the
overall composting process efficiency. Extended high temperatures can destroy
beneficial organisms that are essential to the cornposting processes.
Air can be circulated through the composting materials naturally, by
mechanical turning, or by using mechanical forced air or suction. As the air flows
through the composting materials, heat is absorbed by the cooler air and carried
from the composting materials decreasing the temperature.
Best temperature control is effected using a temperature feedback mechanism
controlling a mechanical aeration system. In this approach the temperature of the
composting materials is sensed electronically. The observed temperature is
compared with a set-point using a microprocessor,and a blower is turned on if the
observed temperature exceeds the set-point. The sensor monitors the compost
temperature periodically and when the temperature drops below the set-point, the
blower is turned off. The cycling of blowers off and on can produce a very
uniform temperature within the vicinity of the temperature sensor. However, if the
porosity of the composting material is poor, air flow through the mix and, hence,
temperature uniformity may be non-uniform. Non-uniform air flow can result in
hot spots that are not cooled, anaerobic conditions, or overly cool locations.
Regular agitation or turning along with mechanical aeration will improve the
218 Naylor

homogeneity of the material and keep the compost mix open and porous to good
air movement.

2. Moisture Removal

Aeration not only sweeps heat from the composting materials, but also removes
water vapor. Removal of water vapor has two effects. First, the removal of the
water vapor begins the compost drying process. Second, the evaporation of water
and removal of the vapor cools the compost.
The heat that develops during composting warms the composting materials,
but it also evaporates water. This water is derived from two sources: 1, moisture
in the feed-stock (biosolids, wood chips, sawdust, etc.) and 2, metabolic water from
microbial oxidation of the feed-stock carbon or volatile solids.
The incoming feed-stock generally contains about 40 to 45% dry matter, or
about 55 to 60% moisture. During composting, aeration sweeps out a portion of
this moisture which has vaporized, leaving the drier product with only 40 to 50%
moisture. This amounts to removal of a substantial quantity of water in vapor
form. For example, for each 100 tons of raw material composted daily, its weight
after composting will have diminished to about 67 tons, assuming no changes in
the weight of the dry matter. Thus, 33 tons of water will be evaporated and
removed from the composting materials each day. On an annual basis, this 33 tons
surges to nearly 12,000 tons of water, equivalent to approximately 3,000,000
gallons of liquid water. Ignoring the management of this water vapor, and
potentially corrosive liquid water condensate, has caused untold pain and suffering
among compost process managers and engineers.
The second source of water removed by aeration is metabolic water which is
derived from the composting materials. If we consider, as an example, that the fuel
for the biological fire is the cellulose monomer glucose, we may estimate the
amount of water that will be produced by the metabolic processes of the
composting organisms by degradation of volatile solids. From the following
equation, and the associated formula weights of the materials:

C,H,,O, + 6 O2 --> 6 C02 + 6 H 2 0 + Energy . . . . . . . . (5-4)

180 192 264 108
From this equation, we can show that for every 180 pounds of cellulose or
glucose monomer (volatile solids) lost, approximately 108 pounds of water is
produced. Scientistshave suggested that about 15 to 25% of the dry weight of the
composting materials is lost or biologically burned during the composting process.
Each day the volatile solids loss from a 100 wet ton load at 40% solids could
amount to 4.7 tons, with the consequent release of about 3.3 tons of metabolic
Cornposting 219

water. On an annual basis, the formation of this water amounts to about 1,200
tons, or approximately 292,000 gallons. A portion of this water will also be
evaporated by the aeration process.
While aeration cools the composting materials as the air absorbs heat,
evaporation of water is the major cooling factor. As noted earlier, air has a heat
capacity of 0.25 caVg/"C, as contrasted with water which is 1.00 caVg/"C. Cool
air moving through the hot compost will increase in temperature by 4°C for every
calorie of heat energy absorbed. However, evaporation of water absorbs
substantially larger quantities of heat energy. To evaporate one gram of water at
100°C will require 540 calories of energy. At a temperature of 70", about 560
cal/g is required to evaporate a gram of water, over ten times more than the 50
calories that would be required, for example, to increase the temperature from
20°C to 70°C. As is evident, evaporation of water is the greatest heat
absorbingkooling force within the composting material.
While adequate aeration is required to control temperature and remove water
vapor, over-aeration of the composting materials can prove detrimental to the
composting process. Over-aeration can remove so much heat and moisture that the
composting materials cool excessively,reducing the metabolic rate of the microbes
and, as a consequence, the composting rate. Over-aeration can also dry the
composting materials excessively so that metabolic activities of the microbes is
reduced, or in some cases, stopped altogether due to lack of moisture in the
materials. Thus, careful control of aeration, and process monitoring is important
to good composting.

3 . Oxygenation

The third hnction of aeration is to maintain adequate oxygen and, hence, an

aerobic environment in the composting materials. Compost aeration (the process
air) is provided through the aeration piping located typically under the composting
beds. The composting materials are also aerated during agitation and turning,
exposing each particle of the composting materials to the atmosphere. Maintaining
an aerobic environment for the compost organisms assures that these organisms
operate at peak efficiency and prevents most odors associated with anaerobic
conditions from forming.


As the compost process manager considers ingredient options for a blended

feedstock, the physical and chemical characteristicsof each potential material must
be known. There must also be some notion of how each material will influence the
overall character of the compostable mix. Of the most important characteristics,
220 Naylor

percent dry solids (%DS) is probably the number one consideration, followed
closely by the carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N). Then would follow biodegradability,
porosity, and finally a host of characteristics related more to marketing a well-
composted material than operating the compost process successfully. Since
materials used to adjust such properties amend the physical and chemical character
of the blended feedstock, they are often called amendments. Thus, the process
manager must know his ingredients,how they impact the composting process, and


Selection of an amendment to modify and enhance physical and chemical
properties of blended feedstock for optimum composting is a key
consideration in the production of high quality, readily marketable compost.
Factors to consider during selection of an amendment include:
1. The compost customer's requirements
2. Dryness of the amendment
3. Organic matter content
4. Bulkdensity
5. Porosity and particle size distribution
6. pH, nitrogen concentration and other chemical considerations
7. Color and texture
Guidelines for Optimum Performance
Parameters I Minimum I Maximum I Typical
Dry matter, YO 50 95 55 to 75
Organic matter, 50 95 60 to 80
Bulk density, 8 30 15 to 30
lb/cu ft
PH 4 7.5 (except ash) 6 to 7
Nitrogen, % 0.01 2 0.5 to 1.0

Mulch Topdressing General Use

Particle size, in 112 to 2 1/16 to 1/4 114 to 1
Color dark brown brown to black brown to black
Texture coarse fine medium
Cornposting 221

how they will ultimately influence the marketability of the finished compost.
Guidelines for selection of amendments are suggested in Table 5-3.
A second, though no less important basis for developing a blended feedstock
is that the compost process manager must be guided by the initial purpose for
developing and operating the compost facility. Operational objectives for a
composting facility range from being a solution to a waste management problem
to manufacturing compost for an identified compost market. Such objectives may
set fairly narrow constraints on the ingredient options by the process manager. For
example, many compost facilities are developed to help solve a problem with
biosolids, leaves, and yard wastes. For such facilities, the goal is to develop a
blend that 1) composts all of the targeted wastes within a timely fashion, and
2) produces a marketable product. So long as the identified blend of wastes
produces a readily compostable mixture the process manager’s daily activities are
straightforward. However, when that blend of materials no longer produces a
readily compostable mix under the prevailing conditions, then the operator will
need to seek out and evaluate other ingredient options.

A. Dry Solids and Porosity

Obtaining appropriate dry solids content of a blended feedstock with sufficient

porosity is important biologically to give the composting microbes adequate
moisture, and physically to enable gaseous exchange. Important physical
properties of individual materials that influence dry matter content and porosity of
a blended feedstock include dry matter content, moisture absorptivity, particle size,
distribution of particle sizes, and bulk density.
For the most part, a good rule is to develop a blended feedstock containing 40
to 50% dry solids. Agitated bed composting facilities will be able to handle
materials at the lower end of the range while vertical silo-type systems and
windrows will need to be at the higher end. Assuring adequate porosity is the main
reason for the dry solids adjustment. Excessive porosity is not normally a problem
so long as the correct moisture content and good biodegradability exists in the
feedstock. Porosity is assured when voids between bulk particles such as wood
chips are filled with air and not with water or small particles. Windrows rely on
porosity within the blended feedstock to enable gaseous exchange, whereas
porosity in agitated beds is derived in part from regular turning.

1, Increasing Dry Solids

Ingredient options for increasing the dry solids content are listed in Table 5-4,
along with some comments on their use. The materials include both organic and
mineral products, not all of which will be appropriate at each composting location.
For example, use of shredded pallets as a source of dry matter and bulkiness may
222 Naylor

be economical in an area with a pallet manufacturing or recycling facility. In the

mid-west where agriculture predominates,use of various agriculturalwastes or by-
products may be more economical or reliable. Wood fred power plants not
uncommon in the northeast may make wood ash an important dry matter
component in a blended feedstock in that area. Each locale must evaluate materials
discarded within a reasonable hauling distance and consider opportunities to work
such materials into a blended feedstock as beneficial ingredients to the process or
the marketing and use of the finished compost.
If the purpose of an amendment is to increase the dry matter content of a
blended feedstock, usually the drier the material, the greater its value. As will be
noted later, particle size and moisture absorptivity are also important because of
their effect on porosity and absorption of free water.

Material Comments on the Product

Wood chips, shavings, can be dusty, avoid nails in all woody shredded
woody construction waste materials, very dry

I Shredded pallets
I very dry, course finished product, coarseness will
improve porosity I
Shredded brush & leaves, dryness will vary, coarseness will improve porosity,
bark, plant fibers such as some limitation on availability, leaves & grass are very
shredded hay biodegradable

I Kiln dried sawdust & green

sawdust I very dry & dusty, smaller quantities, moisture will
vary widely, competition for farm use I
Shredded paper shred finely, very dry, moderately biodegradable


dry, paper covering is an organic matter source,

gypsum may help hold ammonia, presence of gypsum
in compost a plus
Wood ash very fine material, may reduce porosity, very dry &
dusty, carbon particles may absorb odors
Coal fly ash not a food grade material, will require regulatory
review, some restrictions on use, must pass TCLP test
Cornposting 223


I Material ~ -1 Comments on the Product I
Oat hulls, rick hulls hulls are very stiff, low biodegradability & porosity
Grain milling & cereal waste corn, wheat, oats fines, very dry & biodegradable
Wet grains wet, very biodegradable
Poultry broiler bedding nitrogen source, can be dry & coarse, good porosity
High sugar waste very biodegradable, good energy, high C:N
~ -

Organic Wastes and Slurries

Dewatered biosolids waste activated, anaerobically & aerobically digested,
air dried material, raw primary, dewatered septage,
low C:N, biodegradable
Dewatered water treatment low volatile solids, may be wet, low biodegradability,
plant sludge presence of Al, Ca, or Fe
Dewatered milk wastes, potentially very odorous, may contain diatomaceous
processing wastes, brewery earth, high biodegradability, good energy source
wastes, beverage filter cake
Paper mill fibrous residuals biodegradability varies, variable organic matter
& biosolids content, low nitrogen, check molybdenum
Coffee & tea wastes, fruit highly biodegradable, acidic, low nitrogen content
processing wastes
Meat packing wastes, high nitrogen, highly biodegradable, high odor
hatchery wastes, fish potential
processing wastes, egg
breaking wastes

From time to time, porosity needs may be less important than increasing the
dry solids content of a mix. In such cases, additional options are available. Several
very dry materials that happen to be fairly fine are available and sometimes may
be obtained at little or no cost. These would include sawdust, either kiln-dry or
green, wood ash, ground dry wall (gypsum), and perhaps coal fly ash, if allowed
by regulation. Some materials that may be available locally in selected areas
include ground corn cobs, dust from grain storages, animal bedding such as wood
shavings from horse stables, and shredded papers. Each of these has specific
benefits, but also handling problems. For most of the very fine materials such as
kiln dry sawdust, dustiness is a problem the operator must be prepared to contend

with. For a few, such as grain dust or animal bedding, rapid biodegradability or
odors may need to be considered. However, these problems are not insurmountable
and the process manager should consider broadly all ingredient options available
as tools to manage the composting process.

2 . Porosity

In general, bulky, woody materials, one-inch and smaller in diameter, make good
amendmentsto increase dry solids content as well as porosity. Such materials are
also called bulking agents for obvious reasons: they increase the bulkiness or
porosity of a mix. Post-process screening can be used to remove and reuse the
larger pieces, enabling the operator to get multiple-duty from the chips. This can
be particularly important if the chips must be purchased, or their procurement cost,
e.g. chipping, grading, and transport, is higher than their cost of simple disposal.
However, in some cases the porosity lending materials were considered in the
original design to be included in the fmished product as a means of their disposition
and beneficial use. In such instances, the process manager must give additional
thought on how the materials will impact the marketability of the fmished product.

3 . Particle Size

The particle size distribution of a dry amendment will influence the porosity of a
mix. A uniform particle size will result in many voids between the particles, just
like a stack-up pile of oranges. However, if there is a wide range of particle sizes,
the smaller particles will plug the voids between the larger particles. While the mix
may be drier, the porosity may not be appreciably improved. See Figure 5-8.

4. Bulk Density

Bulk density of a material can be important in terms of the finished weight and
transportation economics of the marketable compost, transportation cost of the
amendment, ease of turning the composting mixture. Materials can vary from
extremely light for Styrofoam beads sometimes added to the finished product for
marketing purposes to relatively dense in the case of wet wood chips.

5 . Moisture Absorptivity

Moisture absorptivity of a dry amendment may be an important consideration if

one or more of the other ingredients contains some fiee water. Free water is water
that will flow from a material by gravity. For example, a dropped, fresh, ripe
watermelon which contains 90% water will manifest free water or juice, whereas
a crushed potato that contains 80% water, most of which is inside cell walls (bound
Composting 225

water) has almost none. If the objective of adding a dry amendment is to absorb the
free water within a mix, then the absorptivity of that material is important.
Shredded rubber tires have from time to time been used as an amendment. Such
material would surely provide porosity, but would have no impact on free water.
In contrast, shredded paper would absorb a great deal of water, but would not
increase porosity appreciably.

6 . Stickiness

Stickiness is a troublesome property than can be adjusted by increasing the dry

solids content of a mix. This problem tends to assert itself with fluid wastes that
have been dewatered using polymers. Under such conditions the overly moist mix
will stick to equipment such as conveyors and loaders, increasing the weight load
on the equipment and bearings. In this case a drier mix tends to be less sticky,
turns easier, and keeps the mix reasonably porous to air. A good test of whether
a mix is too wet or too sticky is to make a ball about the size of an apple with the
mix. If the ball barely holds together, the dry solids content is about right. If the
ball sticks together firmly, even if dropped on the composting floor, more dry
matter is needed.

7 . Adding Moisture

Generally we consider options for increasing the dry solids content of a

compostable mix, but there are circumstances in which a reduction in dry solids,
i.e., more moisture, is warranted. For example, biosolids are often used as a co-
composting ingredient with leaves or other dry organic residues. Where leaves and
yard trimmings are the main focus, dewatered or even fluid biosolids could be
considered the amendment. The water in the biosolids is an essential component
in the blended feedstock. One could consider that in this case, the biosolids are
added as a source of moisture and nitrogen.
Dry solids adjustment may involve either increasing or decreasing the solids
content of a blended feedstock, depending on the ingredients. However, the
compost process manager must focus on producing quality compost and all that is
implied in that objective. Initially the emphasis is on developing a compostable
mix and managing the process successfully, but ultimately the customer’s
requirements are primary. It is clear that these two requirements are intertwined
and both the process and the customer must be satisfied.

B. Chemical Composition

Chemical composition is of interest in a blended feedstock in order to judge the

carbon to nitrogen ratio of the mix and to assure that the mix meets regulatory

standards and compost user requirements.

1. Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio

The main purpose of adjusting the carbon to nitrogen (C:N)ratio is to assure the
compost microorganismsa balanced diet. As discussed earlier, the carbon provides
the energy and the nitrogen furnishes the protein for growth and reproduction.
Materials that are rich in carbon include woody materials, paper, sugar, and certain
types of wood ash. However, these materials do not all have the same proportion
of carbon that would be available to a microbe during the time frame of a typical
two to four week composting period.
A common notion is that the amendment is added to adjust the C:N ratio as
well as the dry solids content of a blended feedstock. While this is not an incorrect
strategy, it is certainly not an adequate picture of the true situation. The dry solids
adjustment can be made with all sorts of dry materials that may or may not have
any impact whatsoever on the C:N ratio. Obviously, an amendment such as kiln
dry sawdust will adjust the dry solids content of a mix, and will have some effect
on increasing the C:N ratio since the sawdust is very fine, with a high surface to
volume ratio. In contrast, wood chips that are one-inch diameter by a quarter inch
thick will have almost no impact on the C:N ratio. Microbes have relatively little
access to the bulk of the carbonaceouscomponent buried within the interior of the
chip. Likewise having no effect on C:N are materials such as wood ash with
chunks of carbon which are virtually non-biodegradable and ground up gypsum
(calcium sulfate) board which is very dry,but contains no carbon at all. Sometimes
non-woody materials make the best carbon sources. These may or may not be dry.
Examples include sugary wastes, fruit wastes, and shredded leaves which have high
C:Nratios and are very biodegradable. Thus, as the operator evaluates the overall
blend, consideration must be given to the biodegradabilityof the materials as well
as their C:N ratio to effectivelyjudge their ability to adjust the C:N of the blended

2 . Regulated Chemicals

All ingredients incorporated into the blended feedstock contain all ofthe chemicals
regulated by environmental agencies, although for many their concentrations are
of no significance. There is a notion on the part of some that certain materials are
clean whereas others represent potential risk as a consequence of the presence of
such chemicals. In reality, presence equals neither toxicity nor hazard. All
materials represent a continua of chemical compositions and concentrations.
Beneficial use of a material is possible because the composition is known, the
appropriate rate of use to achieve some beneficial end is understood, and a use rate
is identified that makes negligible any potentially harmful effects due of the
Cornposting 227

presence of chemicals. For example, application rates of chemical fertilizers are

established to assure nitrogen is not lost to ground water. The proportion of
biosolids compost blended into a container mix is adjusted to avoid salinity
problems. Nonetheless, strict attention must be paid to the chemical composition
of individual components of the blended feedstock.
In general, it is wise to have a chemical analysis of a material before
incorporating it into the compostable mix. Once a material is mixed into the
feedstock, separation is virtually impossible. If a material is known to contain
concentrations of a regulated chemical in excess, blending with other materials so
as to produce a finished product that meets the standard is acceptable under EPA
Part 503, but not necessarily under all state environmental regulations [24]. In
some cases, blending into a mix a material containing excessive concentrations of
a regulated chemical will cause the entire mix to enter the realm of questionable
material. It is best to know the regulatory situation and to know the composition
of the materials used in the blended feedstock prior to mixing.

3 . Non-regulated Chemicals

While the regulatory community has a set of chemicals that it is concerned with,
this set does not overlap very much with chemicals of concern to the users of the
finished compost. Where such chemicals do overlap the concern tends to be
sufficiency rather than excess. Users are interested primarily in macro-nutrients
and trace minerals, pH, organic matter, salinity, along with physical characteristics
such as porosity, water holding capacity, and bulk density.
The macro-nutrients consist of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These
nutrients are of interest in the blended feedstock for several reasons. Nitrogen in
the materials will influence the C:N ratio, and have some effect on the nitrogen
content of the fmished product. Phosphorus and potassium content will influence
the finished product quality. Phosphorus is often listed as soluble phosphoric acid
on description sheets of the nutrient content of materials with a guaranteed or
approximate fertilizer value. What is meant is not that the material contains
phosphoric acid, but that the water soluble phosphorus concentration is expressed
as phosphoric acid, usually as P,O,. This formula gives a P205concentration about
2.29 times higher than the concentration listed as P. The reason is that the formula
contains oxygen. A similar situation exists for potassium which is usually listed as
soluble potash, K,O. In this case the value as K 2 0 is about 1.21 times higher than
for K. The following two formulas show how the proportion of K (eq. 5-5) and of
P (eq. 5-6) in the respective oxide forms is calculated:

-- 2x39 --- 1
K,O (39x2+16) 1.21
. . . . . . . . . . . . . (5-5)
228 Naylor

--2xP - 2x31 - 1
-- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5-6)
P,O, (2x31 +5x16) 2.29

Other elements that may be present at appreciable concentrations include calcium,

magnesium, sodium, aluminum, and iron. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, and
sodium (Ca, Mg, Na, and K) contribute to the salinity of a material, and correlate
closely with pH. Salinity and pH are of interest to the compost process manager
since excess salinity can impact the finished product quality and pH can influence
nitrogen loss as ammonia. Aluminum and iron (A1 and Fe) can react with soluble
phosphorus to form an insoluble compound, and reduce plant available phosphorus
in the finished product.
Calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium are alkaline earth elements that
will contribute to the salinity of a material and ultimately to the finished product
since leaching losses of salts will be negligible. Excessive salinity in the finished
product will reduce the range of uses to those which are less salt sensitive, e.g.
mulch around trees and shrubs or field plantings in humid regions. Salinity tolerant
plants include most grasses, cotton, and the beet family. Of the four elements,
sodium is the least essential to most plants. Thus, the operator needs to review
analyses of individual ingredients for excessive salinity or, as a general indicator,
sodium. Concentrationsof sodium high enough to be a problem obviously depend
on the proportion of a particular ingredient in the blended feedstock. However, as
the concentration of sodium rises above one percent in a material, the manager
needs to consider potential impacts on the fmished product.
At high enough concentrations lime or other alkaline materials can contribute
to the initial of the mix. High pH materials are commonly derived from lime
treatment of a material such as biosolids or potable water treatment residuals. pH
is generally only of transient consequenceto the composting process because of the
buffering action of carbon dioxide, a weak acid, and ammonia, a weak base.
Ammonia is released as a natural consequenceof the composting process. A
high pH in a blended feedstock will tend to encourage volatilization of nitrogen as
ammonia during aeration or turning of the composting materials. At pHs greater
than 8.0 to 8.5, loss of the volatile ammonia can be uncomfortable to operators in
confined composting spaces, whereas at pHs of 7.5 or lower, ammonia loss may
not be particularly noticeable.

neutral alkaline
NH,+ C-> NH, + W . ............................ (5-7)
non-volatile volatile

quor). 3. Dewaiere
230 NayIor

This chemical reaction is reversible and ammonia, along with carbon dioxide,
(eq. 5-8) buffer the pH of the composting materials. Ammonia will react with
volatile acids and other acidic compounds, such as acetic acid, formed during
composting, neutralizing the acids.

acetic acid ammonia ammonium acetate

HC2H301+ NH3 &> NU,+ + C2HsOf.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ( 5 - 8 )
volatile non-volatile

Since the reaction tends to reduce the content of the volatile, odorous
components, this reaction may reduce or at least change the odors evident at a
composting facility. However, balancing the pH of the composting materials so as
to neutralize all odors by this strategy is not practical.
Within the composting process, a pH increase is generally temporary. The
enormous quantity of carbon dioxide, a weak acid, produced during the composting
process buffers changes in pH. The buffering reaction is reversible, but tends to
depress the pH of the composting materials by reaction of carbon dioxide with

C02+OH-c->HC03- o C O , ” + H + . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5-9)
As a consequence of the buffering action of ammonia and carbon dioxide,
well made compost tends to have a pH in the range of 7.5, even though the initial
pH of the blended feedstock may vary from pH 5 to pH 10.
Aluminum and iron are frequently added to slurries to aid in dewatering, or
in some cases to water or wastewater to react with soluble phosphate
(orthophosphate). Aluminum forms a very insoluble precipitate which can be
settled out with biosolids or other sludge to produce a very low phosphorus
effluent. When unreacted aluminum is present in a waste it will react with
phosphorus from other components in the composting feedstock, and can reduce
the water soluble or plant available proportion of the phosphorus in the finished
product. This will not be evident, however, from the analysis of the total
phosphorus (strong acid soluble) present in the finished product but will be shown
in certain tests for plant available phosphorus. Aluminum is not an essential plant
nutrient, but is phytotoxic at low pH. Iron has a similar effect on available
phosphorus, although not so strong as aluminum, plus the advantage that the iron
is an essential nutrient.
Reaction of soluble aluminum with soluble phosphorus in materials to be
composted is not usually desirable. One approach to judge the extent to which the
aluminum has reacted with the phosphorus is to compare the percentages of each
in a material. The formula for aluminum phosphate is AlP04. The molar ratio of
Composfing 231

A1:P in the formula is 1:1. Since the atomic weight of A1 is 27 and that of P is 32,
an A1:P percentage ratio of 27:32 could theoretically precipitate all the phosphorus.
However, soluble aluminum can react with other cations. As a practical matter a
molar ratio of I .4:1 was observed experimentally to precipitate only 75% of the
soluble phosphorus from wastewater [23]. Thus, it can be shown that 1.2% A1 in
a material will precipitate 1.O% phosphorus. From the perspective of the compost
process manager reviewing an analysis report, we can say that the percentage
phosphorus in excess of the percentage aluminum will approximate the unreacted
and potentially plant available phosphorus. So if a waste contains 5% A1 and 2%
P, then the manager could expect the waste to react with other sources of P in other
materials in a blended feedstock. If the %P exceeds the %Al, then most of the A1
will have reacted and should not be a problem due to reactivity with soluble

C. Ingredient Selection

1. Chemical Properties of Common Materials

One of the problems compost facility managers face is lack of ready information
on the composition of common materials. Balancing ingredients from materials
received at a composting facility is always a challenge because analyses of such
items are not always available prior to receipt or in some cases at the time of
delivery. Dry solids can be tested rapidly using a microwave drier, but other
elements are not so straightforward. Data are presented for various foods and food
processing residuals (Tables 5-2 and 5-5 ), wood processing by-products and fiber
residuals (Table 5-6), and various types of animal wastes (Table 5-7). Analyses
furnish data that would help answer questions related to dry solids content, C:N
ratio, concentrations of regulated or non-regulated elements. While not as good as
an analysis of the actual material, these data are useful as a guide for preliminary
evaluation and selection of amendments and other ingredients in a blended

2. Food Processing Wastes

Source separated organic wastes and various residuals fiom food processing (Table
5-8) are ideal materials to blend with biosolids in a blended feedstock. The wastes
derived from the processing of fruits and vegetables are highly biodegradable,
lower in C:N than biosolids, and as a result can supply a readily biodegradable
source of carbon. Pallets, corrugated boxes, and slip sheets can be shredded and
used as a source of dry matter in the blend. In a highly controlled composting
facility, a compostable blend of certain meat packing wastes can be specially
formulated. Not all wastes fiom the food processing facility are appropriate. To
Jute Sawdust Primary Wood Pulping Wood White Colored Chip
Fiber KilnDry Sludge Ash Liquor Bark Tissue Tissue Board
Totalnitrogen 1.1 0.11 0.29 0.12 0.18 0.99 0.28 0.3 3.17
Ammonia --- 0 0.01 0 0 0 0 0 3.17

organic -__ 0.1 1 0.28 0.12 0.18 0.99 0.28 0.3 0

Phosphorus 0.13 0.02 0.01 0.33 0.22 0.07 0 0 0.02

Potassium 0.34 0.11 0.02 1.ti6 0.28 0.11 0.03 0.04 0.05

Calcium 5.03 0.1 0.15 12.8 0.18 1.12 0.16 0.16 0.11

Magnesium 0.36 0.02 0.02 0.81 0.04 0.08 0.02 0.03 0.13

Magnesium 0.44 1.09 0.75 ,043 3.19 0.80 0.21 0.2 I .030

Sodium 0.05 0.59 0.69 0.08 0.1 1 0.08 0.2 I 0.21 0.30

Iron 0.34 0.06 0.18 0.10 .046 1.94 0.15 0.07 0.05

Aluminum 0.15 0.04 ___ 0.06 0.24 --- 0.21 0.02 0.05
Cornposting 235

be avoided are salty residues, metal and glass contamination, plastic strapping and
sheeting, and in general slurries from treatment of cooling water or boiler

D. Developing a Blended Feedstock Recipe

Cornposting is an art and a science. To learn the art takes a good deal of
experience, whereas working with blended feedstock recipes based on science can
furnish even the novice with the correct starting point. For the experienced, the
scientific approach can at least help the process manager know why the mix did or
did not compost well. This section discusses the science of developing a good mix.
The process manager is a chef, and for the preparation of a good product he must
know his ingredients and understand how these ingredients interact during the
composting process, their effect on the finished product, the process biology, and
the specific composting technology used. Understanding the art will come with

1. Facility Design Considerations

Each composting facility is sized based on a specified quantity of biosolids at a

specified minimum per cent dry solids, and a minimum per cent dry solids
amendment. A typical composting period is three to five weeks during weather
conditions when composting temperature levels can be maintained and reasonable
drying of the composting materials can be expected. Under these conditions,
marketable finished compost containing 50 to 60% solids would be projected.
Impact of Drv Solids. As properties of the input materials vary from these
expected values, capacity of a facility and the dryness of the finished product will
also depart fiom projected values. As an example, the capacity of a facility will be
diminished as the biosolids dry solids content drops below 20%. With a wetter
biosolids material, a greater weight and volume of amendment at, for example,
55% solids must be added to bring the compostable mixture to 40% solids. Since
a larger proportion of a facility is filled with amendment, the capacity of the
equipment and the facility to handle biosolids is diminished. Likewise, as the
amendment dry solids dips below 55%, a greater volume will be required to h i s h
dry matter as an amendment for the 20% biosolids to produce the desired dry solids
content in the input mix. Conversely, as the solids content of biosolids or
amendment increases, larger quantities of biosolids or smaller quantities of
amendment can be used. Thus, the dry solids contents of the raw materials to be
composted have great importance in the capacity of a composting facility as well
as the quantity and cost of procurement of amendment.
Nutrient Considerations. A second factor is that nutrient deficiencies can
impair the compost process efficiency. Such deficiencies can also limit drying of
Raw vegetables and fruit
spoiled, bruised, spilled shole or partial items, e.g. apples, corn cobs, mushroom stems and butts, skins, peel and
cores, pea and bean waste, cherries and grapes
Process residues
peeling waste, cooked product, sugar solutions or other concentrated high BOD liquid or semi-solid wastes,
grains or whole fiuitlvegetables, spoiled processed product, pie fill, edible fats and oils, sugar beet pulp
Juice Operations
juice pressing residuals (pomace) with or without press aids such as shredded paper or rice hulls, filter aid with
retained materials, apple or grape pomace, juice and beverage filtration residues from wineries, breweries, fruit
juice operations, fermentation residues fiom wine tanks, spent grains from breweries
Waste treatment
waste screenings, wastewater treatment primary (settleable) and secondary (biological) residuals or sludges
Solid waste
shredded pallets, cardboard boxes and slip sheets, labels
Bread. cakes. and cereals
whole bread, spilled flour or grain dust fiom silos, chocolate chips, cereal processing residues
Fish and chicken processing and packing (depending on locale and regulations)
whole or partial birds, hatchery wastes, fish waste, blood if absorbed into sawdust or other dry material, paunch
manure, high strength egg breaking wastes and shells
Avoid: high salt residues (pickling operations), dilute liquid wastes, cooling water and boiler blow-down water, metal
glass or hydrocarbon compound contaminated wastes, waste containing non-compostable solid waste such as large seeds
or pits.
Note: Shredding and screening with recycle of overs will be required for most food processing waste.
Cornposting 237

the finished product. Composting is a microbiological process in which nutrition

of the organisms must be considered. Under most circumstances, the waste
materials to be composted contain adequate nitrogen and energy. Biosolids
material is very moist and contains plenty of nitrogen. Amendment tends to be
much drier, and contains much less nitrogen. Balancing these two materials not
only adjusts moisture in the input mix, but also shifts the overall nitrogen balance
of the mix. The ratio of nitrogen to carbon (protein to energy) as discussed earlier,
is an important consideration in the composting process, especially as the input mix
becomes very rich in biosolids or very rich in amendment. For example, an input
mix will tend to be rich in amendment or yard waste if the biosolids material is
very wet. As the amendment increases in moisture, even larger proportions
must be added, M e r widening the carbon to nitrogen ratio, or C:N ratio. At some
point the composting process will become nitrogen limited. An acceptable upper
limit for the C:N ratio is 40.
As the C:N ratio becomes larger and larger, the microorganisms begin to
become nitrogen limited. In such a situation, while we are not in trouble
nutritionally, the composting process begins to slow causing a hrther retardation
in the rate of energy or heat production. With less energy produced, the drying
capability will be diminished resulting in a wetter finished compost.
Energv Considerations. Finally, not only does the biosolids composting
capacity diminish as amendment solids content decreases, but the dryness of the
finished product may also decrease. The microbially available energy content of
most amendment materials tends to be lower than that of the biosolids. Volatile
solids derived from biosolids is about 30 to 50% biodegradable, whereas for an
amendment such as sawdust the volatile solids are only about 15 to 25%
biodegradable. Thus, on a dry weight basis, energy available microbially from
sawdust may be comparable to that from biosolids even though the biosolids may
contain only 50% VS as compared with sawdust which may contain 90% VS.
As the amendment dry solids content decreases, proportionately more is
needed to produce an input mixture with the desired solids content, for example
40% in this case. As the proportion of sawdust in the input mixture increases, the
available energy decreases. With less energy available to warm the compost and
evaporate water, more moisture remains in the compost. Hence, the finished
product will tend to be wetter (lower dry solids content) when the amendment is

2. The Two Ingredient Mix

The simplest compostable mix will consist of two ingredients: biosolids and a dry
amendment. For example, biosolids and sawdust, biosolids and shredded yard
waste, or biosolids and wood chips are compostable mixes. Literally hundreds of
such mixes are prepared daily in all sorts of composting facilities throughout the
238 Naylor

world. The single objective of the recipe is generally to develop a mix with the
correct dry solids content, about 40 to 50% dry solids, depending on the
composting technology. As it turns out, such mixes have a C:N ratio of about 20
to 40, which is appropriate. The mixes usually have adequate porosity. And the
mixes usually compost well. Thus, for ordinary day-to-day composting balancing
the dry solids content is a good approach, and certainly a good first step, to
developing a compostable mix.
Obtaining the correct dry solids content at the time the blended feedstock is
prepared is important to successful composting, not to mention low frustration
levels by the staff. Once the initial mix has been prepared, wetting is inconvenient,
if not very difficult, and drying a too wet mix is nearly impossible without
completely starting over and adding more dry material.
Weight basis mix ratios. The proportion of biosolids and amendment in a mix


drv weight waste + drv weight amendment = %DS mixture or %DS, wet weight
waste + wet weight amendment

wet weight waste x YoDS, + wet weight amendment x %DS, = %DS, wet weight
waste + wet weight amendment

wet weight waste x YoDS, + wet weight amendment x %DS,

= %DS, (wet weight waste + wet weight amendment)
= %DS, x wet weight waste + %DS, x wet weight amendment

wet weight amendment x YoDS, - wet weight amendment x YoDS,

=wet weight waste x YoDS, - wet weight waste x %DS,v

wet weight amendment (%DS, - %DS,)

= wet weight waste (%DS, - YoDS,)

&DSADS,) = wet weipht waste

(DS, - %DS,) wet weight amendment

wet weight amendment = wet weight waste WODS,-O/DS,~)

(%DS, - YoDS,)
Where: w = waste, a = amendment, m = blended feedstock mixture, YoDS = percent
dry solids
Cornposting 239

are a function of the dry solids content each of these two ingredients and the target
dry solids content of the blended feedstock. The derivation of mathematical
equation, shown below, for calculation ofthe amendment quantities (weight basis)
is given in Table 5-9.

wet weight waste (%DS,-%DS,) . . . .(5-10)

Net weight amendment =
(YoD S,-YOD S,)

Where: w = waste, a = amendment, and m = blended feedstock mixture;

%DS = percent total dry solids of the indicated material as subscript

Using this equation, the amendment weight varies the greatest when in the
range of 50 to 60% as shown in Figure 5-9. For example, the quantity of
amendment required, weight basis, at 50% DS to achieve 40% DS in the input mix
is double that required at 60%. But the amount of amendment required at 60% is
double that required at 80%. Similar differences are noted in the effect of the dry
solids in the biosolids on the amendment requirements. Thus, dry solids content

c 3'0i Bio6olids. % dry solids

+12% DS
+18% DS
-24% DS
~ 3 0 DS


Weight ratio6

50 55 60 65 70 75 130 85 90
Amendment, %DS
240 Naylor

of the available amendments and of the biosolids are very important considerations
as the compost process manager evaluates the supply of dry materials available
to be used in a biosolids-amendment input mix. This ratio is important to
transportation costs, truck traffic, finished product handling and post-processing,
quantity of finished compost to be marketed, and capacity of storage facilities. It
is also an important consideration in evaluating the quantity of a dry waste material
such as yard waste that can be absorbed by the composting facility.
Volume basis mix ratios. Mixing materials on a weight basis provides the
most accurate, reproducible, and generally most successful approach. However,
materials are mixed from time-to-time on a volumetric basis, especially once the
bulk density of the material is well-known fiom practice. To develop a mix based
on the volume of the ingredients their bulk densities must be known. Bulk
densities were calculated from weight of a cubic foot of material for various
samples of sawdust, a common amendment, and the data are plotted in Figure 5-10.
As is clear from the graph, considerable variation exists in the bulk density of
sawdust samples, even samples with the same dry solids content. Sawdust is a
relatively homogeneous material as contrasted with, for example, yard wastes,
leaves, and even wood chips. The latter materials are non-uniform, and pack
tightly or loosely depending on the particle size, moisture, and stiffness (green vs.
dry). Developing mixes based on volume ratios for such non-homogeneous
materials is not very accurate, but experience operators have had reasonable


Cornposting 241

success. Nonetheless, mix ratios based on weights of ingredients are always more
accurate than those based on volumes.
As the dry solids of a homogeneous amendment such as sawdust decreases,
i.e. the material becomes wetter, the bulk density increases (Figure 5-10). Water
has filled openings in the material that were previously filled with air. From Figure
5-9, a decrease in the dry solids of an amendment will increase the quantity
required to achieve a desired dry solids content in the blended feedstock. This
requirement for a larger weight of an amendment when combined with an increase
in bulk density as amendment moisture increases would seem to be self-
compensating. But these two factors do not quite compensate for each other
volumetrically, as shown in Figure 5- 1 1. Roughly half as much amendment by
volume is required at 65% DS as at 50% DS.
It should be noted that the mix ratios shown in Figure 5-9 (weight basis) and
Figure 5- 1 1 (volume basis) are specific to the conditions represented on the graphs.
Those conditions are 40% DS in the blended feedstock, amendment bulk density
as represented by the curve in Figure 5-10, and a biosolids bulk density of 59 lb/cu
ft. Volumetric ratios are particularly sensitive to variations in bulk density of the

2 1 Volume ratios
Biosolids, % dry solids
+12% DS
--A-18% DS
-+-24% DS
-0- 30% DS
E '

v 0

Biosolids bulk density = 59 lblcu ft


K 01 I I I I I I I 1

50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85
Amendment, % DS
242 Naylor

amendment. If the conditions change from these assumptions, the curves become
less representative and should be redrawn for better accuracy.

3. Multiple Ingredient Mixes

Compostable feedstocks have become more complex as compost process managers

become increasingly knowledgeable and a wider diversity of ingredients become
available. Public works directors and government officials are becoming
increasingly aware of the ability of compost facilities to handle the source
separated organic wastes portion of the solid waste stream. These wastes include
grocery store wastes; certain non-recyclable paper products; food wastes from
homes, restaurants, fast food establishments, hospitals and schools; and a wide
variety of organic wastes and residues from industries.
Developing a recipe for such a complex mixture can be a challenge because
of the diverse physical and chemical properties of the various ingredients.
However, all potential ingredients with the exception of mineral residues such as
wood ash are biodegradable within the composting process just as they would be
in a natural setting such as a woods or field. Blending such materials does not
guarantee rapid composting, but the process manager can expect that the materials
will eventually break down. The manager’s objective is to optimize the blend of
composting materials and the composting conditionsto allow the fungi and bacteria
to function most efficiently.
The first objective the process manager must address is to adjust is the dry
solids content of the blended feedstock. As with the two ingredient mixture, a
feedstock with appropriate dry solids content will generally have adequate porosity
and a reasonable C:N ratio. The simplest approach is to convert the diverse
ingredients to a two component mixture by combining the relatively moist
materials into one group, and then choosing one dry material or a group of dry
materials as the amendment. Then the recipe for the feedstock mixture thus
divided can be developed using the formula for the two component mix. A blended
feedstock recipe calculation example is shown in Table 5- 1Oa. A blank template
is provided in Table 5-lob. The calculations directed in Table 5-10 can be readily
transferred to a computerized spreadsheetto make the recipe calculator interactive.
The example in Table 5- 1Oa suggests the availability at a composting facility
of biosolids, paper, yard trimmings, food waste, dry IC&I (industrial, commercial,
and institutional wastes), and a dry amendment that is used to balance the solids
content of the mixture of the other ingredients. The wet (as received) weights
of the waste
materials shown are arbitrary for this example. In practice, the materials and their
weights will be those actually available or received at the composting facility. No
weight or mass units are shown in the example since it is the weight ratio of
the various materials that is key. While yard trimmings are shown here as a waste,
Cornposting 243

the material could also be used as an amendment, leaving a blank for the yard
trimmings box. In other words, the example shows a weight of 10 for the yard
trimmings, and a weight of 14 for amendment. We couldjust as easily use a weight
of 24 for the yard trimmings.


WredienQ Dry SolIda, Wet Weight Dry Weight
fill in 96DS and w t w i g h t multiply divide to get
YardTrimming 55%
Food Waste 32%
Dry IcBtI
divide dry d u e t wt add add
x 100toget%DS wetwts dry wts
Total wastes
Blendedfeedstock << Fill in desired Yo dry solids in feedstock
Amendment %dry solids inamendment
amendmaRYoDS x wetwt=
wet weight dry weight
wet weight (~alc.below) =

How to eplcnlntethe weight of amendment to nchleve the dealred % dry r o ~ d aha the blended
1. Add up dry weights of in@enta. Add up weights of ingredients. Keep all Units the same, for
example, all weights in tons, Mg, kilograms or Ibs.
2. Divide total weight by the tdal wet weight to give percent dry solids of the compositemix
3. Calculate amdment guantity to achieve the desired percent solids in the blended feedstock

Amendment wt = -
(wet wt wastes x feedstodc DS %I 100 drv wt wastes)
(amendment DS YO feedstock DS %)I 100
wetweieht x feedstockDS.%+ 100 =

value = 12.11 a-b

lamend DS. YO feedstock DS. YO) + 100
244 Naylor

Depencllng on the actual materials, their weights, and their dry solids content, it
is possible for the calculated amendment weight to be negative value. When this is the
case,the dry solids content of the mixture of the wastes will be higher than that desired
in the blended feedstock In such cases, a material wetter than the blended feedstock
will be used to balance the dry solids content. For example,


Ingredients Dry Solids, Yo Wet Weight Dry Weight
'ill in % DS and wet weight


divide dry wt/wt wt add add

X loOtoget%DS wetwts dry wts
rdal wastes
<< Fill in desired %dry solids in feedstock
Amendment << Fill in known% dry solids in amendment
wet weight dry weight
wet weight (~alc.below) = 1 1 0
How to cpleulnte the weight of amendment to achieve the dedred % dry solids in the blended

1. Add up dry weigMs of ingredients. Add up weights of ingredients. Keep all units the same, for
example, all weights in tons, Mg, kilograms or Ibs.
2. Divide total dry weight by the total wet weight to give percent dry solids of the composite mix
3. Calculate amendment quantity to achieve the d e s i percent solids in the blended feedstock

-wt= -
(wetwtwastes X feedstock DS %I 100 drvwtwastes)
(amendment DS YO feedstock DS YO)I 100

wetweight X

n1 - + TI=
dryweightwastes =
Composfing 245

food waste or biosolids could become the amendment if a wet material is needed
to lower the percent dry solids of the waste materials.

4. Carbon to Nitrogen Adjustments

The C:N ratio is important in developing a compostable mix in order to assure

proper nutrition for the microbiological decomposers involved in the composting
process. The C:N ratio is calculated by dividing the % carbon (%C) by the % total
nitrogen (%N). As noted previously, the % carbon (%C) can be estimated fiom the
% volatile solids (%VS). Research has indicated a very general relationship
between these two parameters fiom the study of soils [22]. This study suggests that
the % volatile solids divided by 1.8 approximates the % carbon in a sample.
Although this is only an estimate, it does provide guidance in developing
compostable mixtures.


Total Mix$ 1.2% 78% 43% 35

t % Carbon = % VS + 1.8 tt C:N=%C+%N

% Blended Feedstock
* Dry weight. These weights may be transferred from the data in Tab. 5-10a.
246 Naylor

In general, it is best to develop a blended feedstock recipe initially by

adjusting the dry solids content to the desired level because moisture content is so
critical to good composting. Then the C:N ratio can be checked to be sure it is
within the range of 20 to 40. If the ratio is much outside this range, subsequent
batches can be adjusted. Adjusting material that is already prepared is usually not
necessary. Unless the biosolids used in the initial mix is very dry (e.g. > 30% DS),
a C:N of about 15 to 18 is the lowest that would ordinarily be obtained with a
biosolids -wood chips or sawdust mixture provided the dry solids content of the
mix is correct. Mixes with this much nitrogen will be expected to generate a good
bit of ammonia when they are turned or aerated. In a static pile situation, the
situation can be corrected if the piled material can be leveled, more carbonaceous
material layered on top with a front end loader, and then the pile reformed. For
vessel type systems, adjustment is generally not practical.
A procedure to calculate the C:N ratio of a blended feedstock is presented in
Table 5-1 1. Weight of dry solids for each of the waste materials, the amendment,
and the input mix can be transferred from Table 5-10a and used as input values
where appropriate in Table 5-1 1. If spreadsheets are used for the calculations,
these can be linked so that the data is automatically transferred and C:N calculation
is immediate. This enables working interactively with the quantities of the
materials to adjust not only the dry solids content, but also the C:N ratio. This is
not to say, of course, that a compost process manager must have a computer to do
good composting. A hand calculator can work just as well, but will take somewhat
If a deficiency of carbon or nitrogen is evident to the process manager,
corrective steps in the next mixture should be undertaken. A large number of
materials with their dry solids content, C:N, and estimated biodegradability are
listed in Table 5-1. Review of these materials may be helpful to the process
manager in locating ingredients that can correct the available carbon or available
nitrogen in the blended feedstock.

5. Energy Balance

As discussed earlier, the energy output as heat during composting is the driving
force of the process. Energy generated is used to increase temperatures into the
pathogen killing range, to increase the microbial rate of decomposition, to elevate
the temperature of the feedstock and air, and to evaporate water. When a mix has
inadequate energy, one of these uses suffers, usually moisture evaporation.
Occasionally it is useful to be able to estimate the energy content of various
components in a compostable mix and the blended feedstock. This is especially
helpful if an input mix contains a high proportion of inert (non-biodegradables such
as sand or ash) or slowly biodegradable materials (lots of paper or wood chips).
Composting 247

Energy can be estimated from the percent biodegradabilityof the volatile solids and
the amount of energy obtained from degradation of those solids. Oxidation of
volatile solids may be estimated from the energy output during combustion of a
material. For organic matter the common value used is 10,000 BTU's per pound.
While this value may not be exactly correct for each ingredient, it will furnish an
approximation of the relative heat output from a mixture of ingredients.
A protocol for calculatingthe estimated energy from ingredients and for the
blended feedstock is presented in Table 5-12. This energy is considered to be
released during the three to seven week composting period plus curing time.
Weights and solids data for this calculation can be obtained from Tables 5-10 and
5- 1 1. Estimates for biodegradability are shown in Table 5- 1. Tables 5- 10 to 12
developed as computer spreadsheets can be linked to automatically update data
transfers and make the blended feedstock recipe (materials balance), C:N ratio, and
energy output interactive. Data calculated from Table 5- 12 also enables estimation
of the dry weight and wet weight of the finished product.
Examining the thermodynamicsof the composting process can lead to a better
understanding of energy output during the composting process, how that energy is
used, and the inter-relationship of biodegradability, volatile solids lost, metabolic
water formed, and the weight of the finished compost.
To produce a dry, high quality product, the composting process must generate
enough energy to not only heat the compost to pathogen-killing temperatures, but
also to evaporate moisture in the composting materials. This energy is produced
by the microbial oxidation of biodegradablevolatile solids, the biological fire. This
discussion assumes an energy yield of 10,000 BTU per pound of volatile solids
destroyed, and the energy to remove the moisture (latent heat of evaporation) is
considered to be about 1,000 BTU per pound of water evaporated at 140°F.
For the purposes of this example, the biosolids dry matter is considered to
contain 60%volatile solids, of which 35% is considered to biodegrade within the
active composting period. While the amendment contains a greater concentration
of volatile solids, 90%, this material is known to be less biodegradable because of
the lignin in the wood. The amendment is considered to be 25% biodegradable
assuming it to be primarily ground up wood mixed with some leaves and/or grass
The example data in Table 5-13 illustrates a case in which 30 wet tons of
biosolids are composted with 40 wet tons of amendment. The blended feedstock
contains 70 wet tons or 28 dry tons at 40% DS. Of the dry material in the
feedstock, 3.60 tons of VS is derived from biosolids and 19.8 tons from
amendment, for a total of 23.4 tons. During the cornposting process, 1.26 tons of
biosolids VS plus 4.95 tons of amendment VS for a total of 6.21 tons VS are
biologically burned releasing about 124.2 million BTU of energy, eq. 5-1 1 .
248 Naylor


Example DS,% Wetwt. Drywt. VS,% Weight Weight
Material % vs Water
a b axb C axbxc b-a x b

Biosolids 30.0 6.0 60% 3.60 24.0

2.70 0.5

1 ::: 1 1 1 :I 1
Paper 5.0 4.5 60%

10.0 5.5 80% 4.40 4.5

Food Waste 10.0 3.2 95% 3.04 6.8

Dry IC&I 2.0 90% 1.35

Amendment 14.0 90% 6.93

Totals 71.0 28.4 22.0 42.6

Total Mix I 40% I 78%

a+b d e f+e f
x 100% x 100%

Biosolids 6.0 3.60 35% 1.26 12,600 4.7


Yard Trimmings

Food Waste

Dry IC&I



Total Mix k I 32% I I

I +k x 100%

Y BTU's = Ib VS lost x 10,000. Example assumes weights are in Ibs.

Multiple by 2000 for tons, or other factor to convert to other units.
t Biodegradability of volatile solids.
tt Ib VS lost = Ibs VS x % biodegradability
Composffng 249

6.21 tons VS lost x 2,000 lbshon ......................... .(511)

x 10,000 BTUAb VS lost = 124.2 M BTU

Assuming the 28 tons of dry solids and 42 tons of moisture increase in

temperature by 70°F fiom 70°F to 140°F during composting, approximately 6.86
millionBTU's of energy will be absorbed by the campostingmaterials (eq. 5- 12), plus
an additional amount for the air moving through the materials and warmed. In this
example, we will ignore the quantity of heat absorbed by the air. Further details on
energy balances and composting thermodynamics are discussed in exhilarating detail
in the text by Haug [9]. The amount of heat required to warm water and solids is,
respectively, 1.OOBTUAb-F" for water and 0.25 BTUAb-F" for solids.

(28 tons solids x 2,000 lbhon x 0.25 BTUAb-F +

42 tons waterx 2,000 lbhon x 1.00 BTUAb 4) x 70 OF
= 6.86 M BTU .......................... (5-12)

Most of the energy will be absorbed by evaporation of water. The blended

feedstock mix is 40% DS initially, and the finished compost is considered to be 55%
DS. From Table 5-13, the 70 wet tons of feedstock contains 42 tons of water and 28
tons of dry matter. During the composting process 6.21 tons of volatile solids are
biologically b u m 4 leaving only 21.8 tons of dry matter. If this remaining material,
the finished compost, is 55% dry solids, the wet weight will be:

21.8 dry tons + 0.55 dry tons per wet tons

= 39.6 wet tons .......................... (5- 13)

39.6 wet tons - 21.8 dry tons = 17.8 tons water in the finished compost

42.0 tons water in feedstock - 17.8 tons water in compost =

24.2 tons water lost

However, the biodegradation of the volatile solids generates water as well as

heat,ammonia, and carbon dioxide, eq. 5-14. This water is a product of the metabolic
activities of the microbes and is called metabolic water. The quantity of metabolic
water can be calculated assuming that the biodegradable volatile solids have the
empirical formula C,,,H,,O,N, formula weight of 201, which is oxidized by 12.5 moles
of O2producing 10moles of CO, 1 mole of NH and 8 moles of 5 0 ,formula weight
18 [9].
250 Naylor


Example DS, % Wet,wt. Drywt. VS, % Weight Weight
Material vs Water
a b axb C axbxc b-axb

a+b d e fie f g
x 100% x 100%

Weight Weight Loss? Wt. VS BTU Final wt.

DS vs %ofVS 1osttt outputg DS
h i j ixj h-ixj

Food Waste


I + k x 100%

.Y BTU's = Ib VS lost x 10,000 BTU per Ib. Data shown here assume weight units are in tons.
The calculation is:
M BTU's = (tons Vs lost x 2000 Ib/ton x 10,000BTUllb) + 1,000,000
t Biodegradability of volatile solids.
tt Ib VS lost = Ibs VS x % biodegradability
Composting 251

6.2 1 tons 4.4 tons

C,,H,,O3N + 12.5 0 2 --> 10 CO,+ NH3 + 8 HZO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (5-14)
201 8 x 1 8 = 144

Oxidation of 6.21 tons of biodegradable volatile solids as calculated in Eq. 5-

14, produces (6.21 x 144 -+ 201) x 2,000 = 4.4 tons of water. This weight must be
also added to the total evaporated. Adding the weight of the metabolic water (4.4
tons) to the amount calculated earlier (24.2 tons) we get a total of 28.6 tons of
water lost. Evaporation of this water at 140°F will require 57.2 million BTU's for
evaporation, over 8 times more energy than for warming the composting materials.

28.6 ton x 2000 Ib/ton x 7,000 BTU/lb water lost

= 57.2 M BTU ............................. (5-15)

Adding the 57.2 M BTU for evaporation of water to the 6.86 M BTU to warm
the compost gives a total energy absorption of 64.1 M BTU. This leaves 60.1
million BTU in excess that will be absorbed by the air used to cool the compost or
lost to the environment.


Odor ranks number one of all the pollutants that may get the public's immediate
attention. Complicating the odor problem is the highly subjective nature of odor.
What one person finds acceptable, another many find extremely objectionable.
Odors are produced on the farm, during rendering and food processing activities,
and by a variety of waste management activities, including composting.
Agricultural areas have organized into political agricultural districts with legal
right-to-farm laws supporting normal farm operations including the spreading of
manure with any associated odors. Thus, odors are not specific to biosolids or
composting, but are common in all areas of life from the home to the farm. The
key to being a good neighbor, whatever the odor source, is to keep the odors
separate from the noses. For a composting facility to be successful and continue
operations, this objective must not just be a goal, but an accomplishment.
In recent years the science and technology of odor control has greatly
improved. Odor control can be provided using a number of strategies including the
* Control of composting process
c Enclosure of composting areas
'I. Treatment of odorous pollutants
c Locating composting site at safe distance from receptors
252 Naylor

A high percentage of composting facilities use biofiltration but a number of very

large facilities do use chemical scrubbers. No reports of commercialuse of thermal
oxidizers can be found in the literature researched.
This section reviews causes of odors and their removal by biofiltration, an
increasingly used odor control technology.

A. Origins of Odors

Odors are produced during incomplete microbial oxidation of organic materials,

principally carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates are chemicals that consist
of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in the general form - (C,H,,O,) -. Most
common of the carbohydrates are cellulose and sugars found in virtually all natural
products. In the absence of adequate aeration, carbohydrates break down into
alcohols, esters, aldehydes, and organic acids. Each of these natural compounds
has a characteristic aroma from sweet to sour to putrid. Proteins are compounds
consisting of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. Odors produced
from degradation of proteins in the absence of adequate oxygen consist of
ammonia, amines, mercaptans, and others. Some of the nitrogen and sulfur
containing odors are very intense, tend to be more objectionablethan carbohydrate-
based odors, and may be evident at atmospheric concentrations in the ppm and ppb
Composting biosolids aerobically will generate some odors as a consequence
of normal biological activity. Intensity and character of such odors will be a
function of the C:N ratio of the blended feedstock, the quantity of material
composted, odor dilution potential, operational factors such as agitation,
temperature of the composting process, and the odor potential of raw materials.
While odors from such sources are not readily controlled, other potential sources
can be minimized.
Prevention is the best initial step for control of odors. Maintenance of aerobic
composting conditions will help to a large extent in minimizing formation of odors.
But this cannot eliminate all odors. Sources of preventable odors are spills,
biodegradable amendment storage piles, and even clean up activities. Non-
composted biosolids tracked onto roads, parking areas, or even off site are
troublesome due to both odors and appearance. Good housekeeping in the
composting area is essential to eliminate unwanted debris or piles of fresh materials
from accumulating. Any spill or even clean up activity leading to evaporation of
volatile organic compounds will contribute to odors. A bucket on a tractor is an
ideal way not only to clean up spills, but to also generate an odor-producing thin
layer of biosolids on a hard surface. But biosolids are not the only sources of
odors. Other sources would include wet leaves and especially grass clippings used
in the composting process. Stockpiles of such materials may turn anaerobic and
release odors during turning.
Cornposting 253

Once the preventable odors are eliminated,the focus is on minimizing contact

of the residual odors with sensitive noses. This is accomplished through a
combination of facility isolation, odor control technologies, and natural dilution
with air. Facility isolation must be a consideration during the initial planning
process, and subsequent changes are seldom an option. Thus, odor destruction and
dilution of any residual odors are the basis of being a good neighbor.

B. Odor Control Technologies

Attempts at odor control have included masking agents (covering up the odor with
another, more acceptable odor); oxidation of the odorous material with ozone,
potassium permanganate, or chlorine containing compounds in commercially
available wet scrubbers; adsorption using activated carbon filters; thermal
oxidation using afterburners; and absorptiodbiological oxidation using biofilters.
All of these technologies can be successful in removing odors. However the chief
benefit of the biofilter is the simplicity of this technology matching the simplicity
of composting.
Although biofiltration is accepted to varying degrees within the compost
science and engineering community, biofilter use is growing. Major benefits of
biofiltration relate to its simplicity.

Odor removal is reasonably effective even under poor management, and very
effective under average to best management.
A broad spectrum of chemicals and concentrations can be removed.
Biofilter media materials are readily available through local landscaping
supply yards. Piping and blowers to distribute air to the biofilter are readily
available at many equipment supply houses. Virtually no chemicals are
required for successful operation.
Moisture flowing through the biofilter contains mostly soluble salts (nitrates,
carbonates, and sulfates). This liquid can be captured in a sump and may be
returned to the composting materials as a source of moisture.
The biofilter is resilient to varying environmental conditions such as heat and
cold, snow and rain, although much less so to drought.
Relatively simple and infrequent maintenance is required for satisfactory odor

While there are a number of benefits, the long term biofilter efficiency is
dependent on the maintenance of the physical, chemical, and biological condition
of the biofilter media.

C. Biofilter Fundamentals and Operations

A properly operating biofilter is, at its most fundamental level, a forced air,
unmixed, very high C:N ratio compost pile. In most cases heat build-up is
negligible, though fieezing is uncommon in northern climates. Components of the
media must furnish porosity for good air flow and low head loss through the media,
physical structure to support the media and minimize collapse during the life of the
biofilter, an active biological population, and moisture for support of this biological
community. To function efficiently, the biofilter must be maintained to sustain
both the physical structure and the biological population.
The success of a well-maintainedbiofilter to control odors is a function of the
efficiency of two processes: sorption and regeneration.

1. Sorption Processes

The biofilter's odor removal capability is due initially to interaction with particle
surfaces, the active sites. This takes place by adsorption onto particles of the
media, absorption or dissolution into water, chemisorption, catalytic contact on
particle surfaces, and ion exchange on particle surfaces. Odorous compounds in
an air stream flow through the biofilter media matrix and become attached through
adsorption or absorption onto particle surfaces, removing the odors from the air
stream. Since removal occurs onto surfaces, the surface area of the media is fairly
important. Thus, odor removal efficiency is a function the strength of the
physicaVchemica1 sorption processes and the surface area of the sorptive particles
in the biofilter.
For example, hydrogen sulfide can be precipitated onto particles as sulfides of
iron or other metals. Hydrogen sulfide is first dissociated into HS- and H'and then
precipitated as the metal sulfide. In the case of ammonia, the ammonia is dissolved
in water, dissociating into m' andOH with sorption of the ammonium ion, and
neutralization of the hydroxyl ion by soil acidity. Volatile, long-chain, lipophilic
organic molecules are sorbed most effectively by moist organic matter. However,
the sorption capacity of the particles is limited, and regeneration of the medium's
sorption capacity must be achieved by chemical and microbial oxidation of the
odorous compounds. When the biofilter is in long-term use, the sorption-
-regeneration processes reach steady-state conditions.

2. Regeneration Processes

Regeneration of the sorbed chemical is moderated by microbial biodegradation,

thermal processes, and chemical reactions. Thermal and chemical removal by
biofilters play a small role in odor removal because of their high energy
requirements. In contrast, microbial processes, which have low energy
Composting 255

requirements, are the dominant mechanisms in biofilters. Biofilter media possess

an abundance of diverse soil bacteria and other organisms which participate in
these processes. Because these organisms are dependent on the water in the soil for
their biological processes, biodegradation and oxidation of sorbed odors is most
efficient in media with adequate moisture.
As an example, hydrogen sulfide, and H S are oxidized by thiobacillus bacteria
to hydrogen ions and sulfate ions, odorless chemical entities. In the case of
ammonia, the NH4+is oxidized to nitrite by nitrosomonas bacteria, and then to
nitrate by nitrobacter bacteria. Volatile organics such as the odorous butyric acid
are oxidized to carbon dioxide and water by a succession of bacterial groups.

3 . Steady-state Operation

The capacity of the biofilter media to remove odorous chemicals depends on the
simultaneous operation of both the sorption processes and the regeneration
processes. As a result, the biofilter's odor removal potential can be exceeded by
overloading the system through excessive air flow rates, so that sorption rates are
lower than the rate at which the chemicals pass through the filter. Once all the
sorption sites are occupied, odor removal is rapidly diminished. A second limiting
factor is the microbial regeneration rate of the sorbed chemical which must equal
or exceed the sorption rate. Toxic chemicals can interfere with microbial
processes until a microbial population develops which can metabolize the toxic
chemical. Soil acidity may reduce the removal efficiency due to an inhospitable
environment for soil bacteria. Soil acidity may also increase removal by reacting
with ammonia to form the non-volatile ammonium ion. In most cases of biofilter
failure, however, the limiting factor is simply overloading of the filter rather than
impairment of microbiological processes because of the great diversity and
numbers of soil bacteria.

4. Design Suggestions

Construction of biofilters is straightforward with proper planning and adequate

attention to design and construction. Key factors in biofilter design are media
composition, air retention time, head loss through the media, and pollutant loading
rate. Biofilter media generally consist of a blend of materials to achieve the desired
properties of structural longevity,high C:N ratio, porosity, biological activity, and
Individual components of the biofilter sorbing media have included well
composted leaves or yard trimmings, wood chips, bark, peat, sand, soil, cured
biosolids compost, fibrous peat, volcanic, and ash. The choice of media tends to
be somewhat site specific. After placing, the media the should have a porosity in
the range of 32 to 55%, possess 40 to 60 % moisture, and the pH should be in the
256 Naylor

range of 5.5 to 8.0.

Odorous gases must reside in the filter long enough to achieve maximum
sorption. While residence time is influenced by the structure, permeability, and
porosity of the filter media, the volume of the bed has been treated for design
purposes as an unobstructed volume. Thus, residence time is determined by the
volume of the filter divided by the specific loading rate of the waste gas [l]. Air
flow rates have varied from 0.5 cubic feet per minute per square foot of biofilter
surface area (cfm/ft2)tomore than 30 cfndff, with a range of 1 to 6 cfm/fi . At
least 30 seconds is suggested for gases with low odor concentrations. Retention
times of 45 to 60 seconds are commonly used for biofilters in the northeastern
United States [ 161. To achieve these contact times at high airflow volumes using
a biofilter media of typically three to four feet in depth, the biofilter footprint can
be quite large. With this media depth, a good rule-of-thumb is an air flow rate of
about 3 cfm/ft2. Surface area requirements can be a significant disadvantage for
locations where land is at a premium.
Several equipment suppliers are marketing enclosed biofiltration units of
varying capacities. Most include some type of air moistening capability and are
ready to be attached to a point source of odor.

D. Biofilter Challenges

While there are a good many positive aspects of biofiltration, there are also many
challenges that must be taken care of during design, construction and operation.
Biofilter media are considered to possess uniform porosity and uniform moisture.
These properties are important to uniform air flow and efficient odor removal, but
are seldom achieved throughout the filter.

1. Construction

Problems during placement include compaction, vertical and/or horizontal

interfaces between consecutive placements, non-uniform mixing of the component
materials, and non-uniform composition of materials. During construction, media
must be placed without compaction using a back hoe or a crane. After placement
the media should be leveled by hand raking. Traffic must be avoided on the media
during or after placement. Compaction decreases porosity, resulting in non-
uniform air flow and poor odor removal.

2. Operation

Short circuiting of odorous air through the biofilter reduces odor absorption
efficiency. Short circuits can be caused by tap roots of plants allowed to grow in
the media, by dry zones which possess more porosity than adjacent moist areas, and
Cornposting 257

macro-pores caused by earthworms, rodents, or water flow. Leaks can be caused

around the edge of the biofilter by improperly placed or sealed liners.
Although there is some concern with overly wet media, drying tends to be a
more common problem. Air flowing to the biofilter is seldom saturated with
moisture, and thus has the potential to remove moisture from the saturated
atmosphere within the media voids. Removal of water from the voids in the
biofilter increases porosity. With higher porosity comes preferentially higher air
flow and the capacity to firher dry the media. Thus, once a dry channel forms in
the media, the drying problem always gets worse. Rewetting of the media should
be initiated as soon as a media dryness is discovered.
Biofilter media can be rewetted by moistening the air flowing to the biofilter,
using soaker hoses below the surface, and providing surface irrigation. Rain and
especially snow are very effective in maintaining media moisture levels. Where
extensive drying has occurred, the dry media may need to be excavated, rewetted
in bulk, and then replaced. Turning off airflow to the section of the biofilter being
wetted can improve penetration of the water. Many biofilters are now designed
with synthetic liners enabling water flowing through the media to be directed to a
sump. Water from the sump may contain nitrate, carbonate, and sulfate salts and
should be tested prior to returning to the biofilter surface or addition to composting
The biofilter media tends to degrade physically with time. Even though the
media possesses a very high C:N ratio, odors from biosolids composting operation
generally contain varying amounts of ammonia. As the ammonia is absorbed by
the media, microbes can use this nitrogen source for degradation of the
carbonaceous media. The consequences of this physical breakdown are shrinkage,
cracks, and structural collapse. Consequences include direct leaks, shorter
retention times, increasing pressure drop, and poor odor removal. The life of the
media will be affected by its biodegradability, the nature and loading rate of the
gases flowing to it, and the maintenance it has received. A three to seven year
media life is common.

3. Monitoring Media Condition

On a weekly basis, record the pressure drop through the media, check for dry spots
on the surface, remoisten as necessary, and remove weeds and grass from the
surface. Increases in static head pressure indicate plugging or media collapse,
while decreases may indicate leaks. Variation from week to week is normal when
induced by rainfall or other temporary changes. What is important are pressure
changes that persist, or trends over time. Graphing the data is often helpful to get
a visual presentation of changes in head pressure within the biofilter. Each month
make an extensive survey of the media surface and correct any problems. These
include surface porosity, moisture in the media, rodent holes that could develop
258 Naylor

into short-circuits, and any odor leaks. On an annual basis, chemically test samples
of the biofilter media to check pH, and concentrations of nitrogen compounds.
Screen the media at one inch, and measure the C:N ratio on the finer materials.
Excavate and examine the media from surface to base to assess its physical

4. Monitoring Air Qualiy

Samples of dischargedltreatedair can be checked fiom if required using an inverted

m e 1 or plastic bucket dischargingto a plastic sampling bag. Samples should be
selected randomly at points on a grid superimposed on the media surface.
Collection of a number of samples is recommended because of non-uniform air
flow due to non-homogeneityof the media. Monitor air flow rates and temperature
at each collection point and at a monitoring point leading to the biofilter to evaluate
airflow rates and mass loading accurately. Untreated and treated air samples can
be analyzed for specific chemicals of interest or by odor panelists.
The success of the biofilter is derived from a combination of physical,
chemical, and biological processes that occur in the media. Odors are sorbed by
the organic matter particles, dissolved in moisture, and broken down and destroyed
by microorganisms. The process is self-sustainingand no supplemental chemicals
are needed. Consequently, little maintenance is required and any liquids generated
are often recyclable.


A successful composting facility will need a receiving and processing train to

prepare the ingredients for the composting process and the finished compost for the
customer. This includes a receiving area, shredding or particle size reduction
capability, moving the finished compost to a screening area, and a curing or
storage area.
he-processing prepares the raw materials for the composting process and the
blending together of ingredients to be used to develop the finished compost. The
raw materials will affect the quality of the finished compost and its marketing so
the presence of any contaminants must be evaluated at this stage.
The receiving area should enable receipt of wet materials such as dewatered
biosolids and dry materials such as wood chips, sawdust, leaves, or yard trimmings.
Provisions must be made to store dry materials before and after shredding.
Sawdust and wood chips can be readily stored under cover to keep them dry; the
purpose of the dry materials is to use their dryness to adjust the moisture content
of the biosolids. Leaves and yard trimmings can be stored outside before grinding
and after grinding, if necessary. These piles are essentially static compost piles and
Cornposting 259

will generate heat that tends to keep the materials fairly dry on the inside. Because
the piles do generate heat, periodically monitoring their temperature is essential to
avoid overheating, charring, or worse. If heat builds up beyond 60 to 70"C, the
piles should be turned and aerated to release the heat.
The dry materials will be processed to uniform particle size by shredding using
a tub grinder, a slow speed auger shredder, or other type of grinding or shredding
technology. The particle size should be guided by the composting technology
selected and the requirements of the customer for the finished compost. Once the
dry materials to be used as amendments are received and ground, these materials
will need to be stored until blending into the composting feedstock.
The purpose of post-processing is to prepare the finished compost for
marketing. Preparation will include conveyance of the finished compost from the
active composting area to the curing, screening, and preparation areas. Trommel
screens and belt shredders are frequently used. Shredding can precede or follow
curing. In some cases, double screening is preferable, especially for the
horticultural market where price opportunities and product quality required enable
somewhat more time to be spent on product quality control.
The compost will need to be cured and stored for 30 days to up to 6 months or
more. The length of curing and storage is a function of the composting process,
regulatory requirements, marketing strategy, and customer requirements. One
benefit of screening before curing is that the quantity of material stored is smaller,
reducing the size of the curing area. On the other hand, the presence of coarser
materials in the curing compost tends to keep the static pile more open, enabling
some exchange of air and heat release. Compost can be cured and stored outside.
Heat generated by this product tends to dry the piles on the inside. The piles will
become wetted on the surface to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. The site should be laid
out to avoid surface water run-on to the storage area. In most cases, site runoff
control is required. Surface water from the area can be collected and used as a
moisture source in the process in many cases.


Recycling composted organic wastes through soil-plant systems provides an

environmentallybeneficial, ultimate disposition of such materials. Such a program
is possible only if the product meets the quality compost standards: chemically
acceptable to regulatory agencies, biologically free of pathogens and weed seeds,
and meets the needs and expectations of prospective customers.
The composting process transforms biosolids and other organic residues into
a material with a physically appealing character, in contrast with the general
acceptability of raw materials. Finished compost contains carbon, oxygen,
hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and a
260 Naylor

diverse group of trace elements such as copper, zinc, iron, and boron. These
elements as well as the bulk provided by the organic matter in compost can
improve the humus content of soil and contribute greatly to the chemical and
physical properties of a fertile soil. However, once the finished compost is
prepared, the necessary next step is distribution and marketing of the product to the
Composted biosolids are marketed to a large extent for the establishment and
maintenance of turf-grass, garden and horticultural use, production of nursery
crops, and as a source of organic matter in bedding plant mixes. This practice
saves customers money while yielding excellent horticultural and floricultural
results. These markets depend on readily available sources of consistent quality
and supply of organic matter for production of high quality plants. Compost
derived from an effective composting process guided by a quality assurance
program is a good competitor in such markets.

A. Marketing Issues

Issues that can influence marketing fall into two general areas: (1) consistent
composition and assured delivery, (2) quality concerns: physical, chemical, and

1. Consistent Composition & Assured Delivery

On-time delivery of the required quantity of a soil amendment with a known

quality is essential. While sizable budgets are allocated for the use of growing
media and soil amendments, they may be small relative to the cost of an entire
project. Composts may be blended with other ingredients such as lime, soil
acidifiers, sand, etc. to achieve desired properties in the finished product. These
blends are used to produce platings that account for the entire year’s sales. If the
quality of the compost changes during the blending program, the finished soil
product may be unsuitable for the planned use. Plant production schedules,
fertilization programs, harvest schedules and marketing plans are heavily
dependent on the quality of the growing media and its consistent performance.
Growers, landscapers, top soil dealers, golf course superintendents, and
greenhouse managers cannot afford to have a project delayed nor the quality of
their work diminished because of unreliable delivery schedules or compost of a
quality different from what they were expecting. Delays cost money and can hold
up work that must follow in sequence. Inability of a compost supplier to meet both
the delivery quantity and schedule can mean lost business by a customer.
While high quality compost can often deliver better results at a lower cost, the
seller of the displaced material will still be competing for the same business. To
successfullymarket compost in a competitive environment, the producerhupplier
Composting 26 1

must achieve assured delivery of the quality and quantity of the material ordered
at a competitive price.

2. Quality Concerns

Physical, chemical, and increasingly, biological properties of compost are of major

importance in determining compost use and value. Physical properties influence
porosity to air and water; chemical characteristics control nutrient availability,
while biological properties can influence plant disease control.
Phvsical DroDerties. Physical properties of interest to users would include
traditional characteristics such as porosity (70 to 90%), bulk density (0.1 to 0.6),
water holding capacity (100 to 200%), and organic matter content (60 to 85%)
[5][10]. But color and particle size can also be important considerations.
Customers tend to compare the color and texture of the new product with whatever
they are currently using. Education by the salesperson,actual use by the customer,
and analysis by a reliable soils laboratory can improve acceptability of a new
product. In general, compost must match physical properties of currently used
products, or the salespersonmust be prepared to effectively demonstrate equivalent
or better performance.
Although woody particles are acceptable and even desirable in compost, the
presence of non-organic materials should be evaluated carefully. Unacceptable
contaminants would include pieces of sheet plastic larger than about 'I8 inch, metal
objects, and sharp pieces of glass (but probably not rounded pieces the size of a
pebble or smaller). Not all non-organic materials are unacceptable, however. For
example, shredded dry wall (gypsum board) has been included in compost, and
may be acceptable chemically and physically. The gypsum particles add sulfur and
calcium, and have a physical appearance similar to perlite, a common ingredient
in soil mixes.
The principal value of compost, though, is its ability to supply organic matter.
Physical characteristics of compost provide important soil conditioning benefits
[3]. These benefits include enhanced aggregation (the ability of the soil to form
discrete particles or aggregates), increased soil aeration (helps keep the soil
biologically healthy), lowered bulk density (lightens the soil which eases weeding
and improves root development),and increased water infiltration and water holding
capacity (maintains the proper moisture balance in the soil for plant growth).
Compost added to soil improves spring warming and enables earlier working of the
soil and planting of crops. Compost added to sandy soils increases the water
holding capacity and the amount of water available to plants. This reduces the
need for irrigation and minimizes the loss of soluble nutrients such as nitrates. In
heavy textured clay soils the added organic matter increases the soil's permeability
to water and air. Such improvements enhance the plant root environment and thus,
aid root development and overall plant growth.
262 Naylor

Chemical characteristics. While the major use of compost is related to its

organic matter content, the macro- and micro-nutrient content are also important.
The nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and calcium (Ca) composition of
composts will vary depending on the source of the wastes. However, compost dry
matter typically contains about 0.5 to 3.0 % total nitrogen, 0.5 to 3.0 % P,05, 0.2
to 2.0 % K20, 0.5 to 5 % calcium, and 0.1 to 3 % iron. Concentrations of these
nutrients substantially beyond this range, suggesting higher nutrient content, can
be produced by adjusting with sources of fertilizer concentrates such as guano,
bone meal, blood meal, or rock phosphate. In addition, most composts contain
variable amounts of other macro-nutrients such as magnesium and sulfur, and
micro-nutrients such as boron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.
Total analysis of several biosolids based composts and the amendment used
are listed in Table 5-14. Analyses include macro-nutrients and several micro-
nutrients of horticultural interest, pH (5050 mix in water), total solids (dry matter
content), volatile solids (organic matter content), fixed solids (ash content), carbon
to nitrogen (C:N) ratio, and N-P,O,-K,O fertilizer value (on a dry solids basis).
Growers are also interested in the concentrations of nutrients that plants can
actually access during the growing season. Available or exchangeablenutrients are
the concentration of nutrients present in a material in a form that a plant root can
absorb, sometimes within a specific time period. For this test, sample processing
is less vigorous since the laboratory is trying to simulate chemically the same
extracting power as fluids emitted by root hairs or the potential for the nutrient to
dissolve in soil water. In this case prior to actual chemical analysis, the sample is
typically prepared by extraction with a weak acid solution such as acetic
acidammonium acetate buffer. Results are commonly expressed as ppm or mg/l
in the extracting solution or the sample dry matter, or sometimes as lbs. per acre.
In some cases the laboratory reports extractable nutrient concentrations for the
sample and also the optimum or typical range of such concentrations for
commercial container mixes. This strategy is useful to a potential customer
because it enables the economic and cultural comparison with a familiar growing
The total and available nutrient analysis present a fairly accurate estimate of
the nutrients in compost in both the long term (total) and the short term (available).
The exception may be nitrogen availability. Forms of nitrogen present in most
composts can be divided into inorganic nitrogen and organic nitrogen. Inorganic
nitrogen forms include principally nitrate and ammonia. These forms are
sometimes described as mineral forms because they can be found in nature or can
be purchased commercially as a mineral such as sodium nitrate. Since these two
nitrogen forms are soluble and can be extracted by water or extracting solutions,
available nitrogen estimated by extraction will report both nitrate and ammonia.
However, organic nitrogen is chemically bound to organic matter and the organic
matter must be biodegraded or mineralized to release the nitrogen. Estimating the
Cornposting 263

amount of nitrogen that may become available as the organic nitrogen mineralizes
(biodegrades into the mineral or inorganic form) is not described by either test.
While there are no tests to determine precisely the proportion of this organic
nitrogen that may become available from a specific compost during a growing
season, the results of many laboratory studies of nitrogen release from composts
suggest that about 10 to 15% of the organic nitrogen will be released during the
growing season. The residual nitrogen is retained in the soil and continues to
provide nitrogen for plant growth for several years.
Compost is a living fertilizer. Because some the nutrients in the compost are
combined with organic matter, these nutrients, especially nitrogen, are released as
this organic matter slowly breaks down through biological activity of living micro-
organisms. This biological activity is moderated by the same environmental
conditions that influence plant growth: moisture and temperature. Thus, as with
many organic fertilizers, the plant nutrients tend to be released gradually, and in
response to the conditions that also stimulate plant growth. Such a release pattern
tends to result in more efficient use of the nutrients. Because of this slow release
nature of compost nitrogen, a second, but equally important, benefit is that nutrient
loss through leaching is greatly reduced or eliminated.
Specific parameters. While environmental regulators show a great deal of
interest in metal concentrations in compost, potential customers, i.e. growers, have
much simpler analytical interests once the compost has passed the regulatory
standard. Thus, a quality assurance program should focus on the grower’s
interests. Analyses of interest are typically pH, soluble salts, organic matter
content, C:N ratio, and odor.
The pH of a growing media strongly influences the solubility of minerals in
the root zone of the plant and the hospitably of the root zone to plant pathogens.
As the growing media becomes more acidic or lower pH, the solubility of
aluminum, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and macro-nutrients such as calcium,
potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus increases [4]. For ericaceous plants such
as azaleas, gardenias, rhododendron, or laurel a growing media pH of 4.5 - 5.5 is
necessary. On the other hand, non-ericaceous plants prefer a media pH of 5.5 to
6.8. Turfgrass recommendations suggest a soil pH of 6 to 7, but can use higher pH.
Most composts have a pH of 6.8 to 7.5, although some composts can be lower
(Table 5-14). Thus, testing the pH of compost or other material intended for use
is important so that the pH can be adjusted, if necessary, for the intended crop.
Concentrations of soluble salts tends to be higher in compost than that present
in common media such as peat, bark, soil, or sand. For example, biosolids can be
rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. These elements contribute to
the soluble salts or salinity of a compost. While such minerals are essential for
plant growth, excess can damage plant roots and inhibit germination, especially in
container crops.
The carbon to nitrogen ratio of a compost, usually shown as C:N, is important
3b. Fairfield, Conn. (leaves); 4. Dartmouth, Mass. (brush); 5. Guilderland, N.Y. (brush); 6. Holyoke, Mass. (sawdust);
7. Lockport, N.Y. (pallets); 8. Plymouth, N.H. (sawdust, woodash); 9. State College, Penn. (sawdust); 10. Rochester, N.H.
(woodash, sawdust, brush). IPS Cornposting Facilities
* Total concentration after strong acid digestion
** Volatile solids = organic matter content
266 Naylor

because it indicates generally whether a compost will compete with plants for
nitrogen. The C:N ratio should be in the range of 15 to 25, i.e. the carbon content
should be 15 to 25 times greater than the nitrogen content. Extra soluble nitrogen
can be added to a growing media to prevent nitrogen deficiencies, provided the
problem is known ahead of time. Alternatively, if the problem is discovered after
planting, a soluble nitrogen source can be added during watering.
Odor is a very personal sensation and one that can influence compost sales.
Compost produced fiom wastes tend to have some odor associatedwith them. The
odor often reflects the material being composted. For example, some ammonia
may be noted in compost produced fiom manures. Biosolids-based composts tend
to have a musty aroma. While such odors may be of some concern initially, they
usually dissipate once the material is mixed with the other ingredients or
incorporated into field soils. Odor in composts applied to the soil surface as a
surface mulch or top-dressing dissipates after watering or exposure to sun, air, and
The public and compost customers often have questions regarding the
biological condition of compost, particularly biosolids derived compost. These
questions center on pathogens. Compostingtime and temperature very effectively
destroy pathogens: bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and helminths. State and federal
regulation of these conditions have been in effect for many years, and experience
indicates that where these regulations have been followed, pathogens are
effectively eliminated fiom compostedbiosolids. However, human pathogens may
not be the problem grower customers are most interested in.
Weed seeds in compost are devastating to a landscaper who has invested
hundreds of hours in developing a beautiful garden only to discover after the first
rain a blanket of weeds. The compost facility will effectively destroy weed seeds
if the time and temperature requirements are met. However, that is only the first
step. The next step is protecting the compost fiom being infected with wind-blown
weed seeds during storage or curing outside. Protection can be achieved by
covering the material, or pushing aside the surface layer into a pile allowing it to
reheat and destroy the weed seeds. Weed control around the storage site can also
be effective in isolating the compost fiom weeds.
A property of compost that has long been suspected by organic gardeners, and
is now being investigatedand proven scientificallyis the ability of some composts
to control plant pathogens. Homick, et al. reported that as early as 1974, composts
were thought to control some root rots and plant pathogens, and that in 1983
research suggested that plant nematodes would also be controlled [12]. Kuter, et
al. found that specific h g a l populations colonizing compost were responsible for
suppression of Rhizoctonia damping-off [14]. Nelson has continued this work
focusing on pythium blight and dollar spot control on turf and has found that
bacterial populations can also play an important role [ 181[ 191. Much of the current
understanding of the widespread mechanisms of disease suppressing effects of
Cornposting 267

compost has been reviewed by Hoitink, Boehm, and Hadar [ 1 11.

3. Quality Compost

Achievement of quality compost is not only indicative of a well-operating

composting facility, but essentialto successfulcompost marketing. Marketing such
products within a competitive economic environment requires a sound quality
assurance program focused on delivering a material with consistent physical,
chemical and biological properties. While meeting environmental regulations is
required by law for biosolids derived composts, customers have an additional set
of chemical parameters of interest. These include organic matter content, total and
available nutrients, pH, carbon to nitrogen ratio, salinity, and odor. Compost
customers rely on the supplier to have the capability to deliver not only a consistent
product, but to deliver that product in the required quantity and on schedule as
promised. Recycling composted biosolids as a soil amendment is not only
environmentally responsible, but sound from a plant production and economic
perspective as well.


In the past decade composting has developed from a fledgling art into an
engineered technology. The science of the composting process is increasingly well
understood. Mechanical composting technologies are improving in reliability and
ease of operation. Process control has become computerized to enhance the
environmental conditions for the compost microbial community and improve
process efficiency. Best of all, the quality assurance of the finished product is
increasingly being guided by customer requirements and process knowledge,
improving the marketability of the compost.
While substantial strides have been made, there is opportunity for
improvement. Continuing efforts must be directed toward economical and
effective odor management strategies. Because of the potential growth within the
industry, effort is needed to expand even further opportunities for beneficial use of
composted biosolids. Public acceptance of biosolids products varies from place to
place. While we have supportive regulations guiding biosolids use backed by a
sound technical understanding of risks and benefits, the societal aspects need
W e r work. Perhaps it is time to request the assistance of the social scientists in
moving forward on this front.
Technically the priorities for guiding biosolids composting are to know the
qualities of the biosolids and the amendments used in developing the blended
feedstock, and to know the expectationsof the market. Compare the quality of the
compost produced with that likely to be expected by the compost market. Once
268 Naylor

the inputs and the markets are known then decisions can be made regarding
selection of the most appropriate composting technology whether in-vessel or
windrow type. Selection of pre- or post-processingtechnologies will be guided by
the characteristics of the ingredients, the quality of the fmished compost, and the
composting technology.
In short, with a sound understanding of the art and the science of composting
a quality product can be produced. A quality product is the foundation of readily
marketable compost.


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3. G. Arkin, H. Taylor, Modifying the Root Environment to Reduce Crop Stress,
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Cornposting 269

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Organic Wastes, New Zealand Eng., November-December, 1951.
23. G. Tchobanoglous, F. Burton, Wastewater Engineering: Treatment, Disposal,
and Reuse, McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., New York, p. 744, 1991.
24. U.S. EPA, Subpart D, 40 CFR Part 503. Standards for the Use of Disposal of
Sewage Sludge, Vol. 58, No. 32, February 19, 1993.
25. B. Watt, A. Merrill, Composition of Foods, Agricultural Handbook No. 8,
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 1975.
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Heat Drying and Other Thermal

Mark J. Girovich

Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems Inc.

Annapolis, Maryland

Heat (thermal) treatment in biosolids processing has been used for several
purposes, such as a) promoting separation of solids from liquids by releasing bound
(cell) water to improve dewaterability; b) meeting pathogen and vector attraction
reduction requirements (i.e., sterilization and disinfection), c) enhancing waste-
activated biosolids digestibility; d) incineration; and e) drying and production of
biosolids-derived fertilizer.
To meet current U.S. EPA 503 Regulations pathogen and vector attraction
reduction requirements, the biosolids heat treatment processes should meet certain
time-temperature requirements depending largely on the solids content
(Subparagraphs C & D of §503.32(3)(ii), [l]). These requirements are typically
applied for direct thermal treatment of liquid biosolids (1. 7% TS), aerobic
thermophilic stabilization (ATS) processes and pasteurization. This chapter’s
focus, however, is on biosolids heat drying for production of beneficial use


Production of dried beneficial use products from municipal solids offers a viable
management solution for many municipalities. Open air solar drying has been
practiced for many years using fiee, nonpolluting, renewable and abundant energy

272 Girovich

source. However, using a solar radiation is not an applicable method for the
overwhelming majority of municipalities in the U.S. where more reliable sources
of energy must be used.
Air (solar) drying is only feasible at favorable climate conditions (significant
percent of sunshine, rate of precipitation, air temperature, wind velocity, etc.).
Biosolids are dried to a level of dryness which depends upon largely uncontrollable
circumstances and, therefore, the establishment of a standard operating procedure
is impossible.
For air drying, biosolids are typically placed on an open surface (lagoons,
sand drying beds, etc.) and left there until they have dried to a desired solids
Biosolids should be stabilized prior to air drying to prevent odors and vector
attraction. Air drying can be enhanced by a vacuum or mechanical agitation, with
the latter possible only if biosolids initial dryness is at least 12-15% TS. Another
solar drying method tested in Florida is to dry biosolids by air heated in solar
panels; however, this technology has not developed beyond a pilot plant.
Air drying is a low cost alternative but it requires large parcels of land and
cooperating weather. It has been practiced primarily in the Southern United States,
however, some installations have been as far north as Chicago, Illinois. Air dried
biosolids are Class B products with respect to the pathogen and vector attraction
reduction requirements and as such they can be land applied on the agricultural
sites specifically permitted for this purpose.

A. Heat Drying and Production of Fertilizer

The rapidly growing biosolids treatment option for beneficial use is heat drying.
Heat drying and production of biosolids-derived fertilizer has been in use in the
U.S. since 1925 when the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin produced Milorganite, a
fertilizer made from municipal solids.
Biosolids heat drying in general provides the following major advantages:

eliminates pathogens and sterilizes the end product, fully satisfying the U.S.
EPA "Standards for the Use or Disposal of Sewage Sludge" (40 CFR Part
reduces the volume and weight of the biosolids considerably
preserves and recycles valuable organic and inorganic nutrients found in
converts biosolids into a valuable end product with revenue potential
(fertilizer, soil amendment or fuel)
improves transportability, storability and social acceptance of biosolids
derived products
Thermal Treatment 273

Heat drying can generate the following products:

a) dried biosolids pellets with no less than 90% TS for marketing as a fertilizer;
b) partially dried biosolids for land application and landfilling (typically 40-60%
TS); and
c) dried biosolids for incineration, i.e. fuel production (40-90% TS).

In order to successfully market biosolids fertilizer, the following major

criteria should be met:

1. Moisture Content

Pellet moisture content should not exceed ten percent (10%) since a higher
moisture content encourages microbiological regrowth and product overheating.
The finished product with minimum dryness of 90% is a Class A product and as
such it can be used as fertilizer with no site restrictions provided its heavy metal
and synthetic organic compounds content is in compliance with the limits
established by federal and local regulations.

2 . Nutrient Content

Pellet fertilizer value is based primarily on nitrogen content. Nitrogen is the

primary plant nutrient found in biosolids, typically in the range of 4% - 6% on a
dry weight basis. As a "stand alone" fertilizer product, pellets should contain a
minimum of 5% total nitrogen consistently. If used as a fertilizer ingredient to be
blended with other fertilizer materials, pellets should contain at least 3.0%total
nitrogen. Phosphorus (as P,O,) and water soluble potassium (as y 0) are also
important nutrients which are usually present in biosolids at low concentrations.
Heat drying generally does not diminish the fertilizer or soil amending
qualities of biosolids as other treatment processes can. However, certain loss
(approximately 20% - 60%) of water soluble ammoniacal nitrogen (M-h+) has been
observed during heat drying, especially if the incoming biosolids pH is above
neutral. Fortunately, the biosolids ammoniacal nitrogen is typically in the 0.25%
- 0.75% (dry weight) range only. Organic nitrogen, the predominant form of
nitrogen in biosolids, on the other hand remains practically unchanged. Organic
nitrogen has the advantage of a slow release rate over time and it is much less
susceptible to run-off loss after rainfall. Micronutrients,for example iron, may also
enhance the product value. The pellets can also be enriched by adding nutrients
(nitrogen, magnesium, iron, etc.) as needed prior to marketing.
274 Girovich

3. Physical Quality

The fertilizer industry demands biosolids fertilizers be consistent with other

fertilizer materials they utilize. The U.S. Fertilizer Institute's (Washington, D.C.)
Bulk Blend Quality Control Manual (1987) addresses some properties for the
fertilizer's amendments (fillers). These properties include particle size, bulk
density, uniformity, chemical compatibility, pH, critical humidity and visual
appearance. Physical quality criteria include:
Particle Size Range - For most agricultural applications, pellets should fall in
the size range of 1 to 4 millimeters. For example, granular commercial fertilizer
particle size specificationused by the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) establishes:

0% wt over 4.75 mm (US #4 mesh)

90% wt minimum in the 1.OO to 3.35 mm (US #6 to #18 mesh)
2% wt maximum below 0.6 mm (US #30 mesh)

Some agricultural and other non-agricultural fertilizer outlets may require

different pellet sizing. Pelletized biosolids with narrow particle size distribution
and minimum dust command higher prices.
Bulk Density - The bulk density of most fertilizer constituents ranges from 40
to 80 pounds per cubic foot. Typically, biosolids fertilizer bulk density values fall
at the lower end of this range or below.
DurabiliR - The pellets should be able to withstand the normal rigors of
transportation, handling and mixing without producing excessive levels of dust.

4. Pathogen and Vector Attraction Reduction

The pellets must comply with the Class A standards for pathogen and vector
attraction reduction requirements contained in the 503 Regulations. In order to do
so, the biosolids heat drying should meet either the direct microbiological limits
(see Chapter 2) or the following process-based requirements:

biosolids are dried in direct or indirect contact with hot gasses to reduce the
moisture content to 10% or lower (290% TS)
either the temperature of the biosolids particles exceeds 80°C (176°F) or the
wet bulb temperature of the gas in contact with biosolids as biosolids leave
the dryer exceeds 80°C (176°F).

Heat drying is an effective pathogen and vector attraction reduction process

which produces Class A biosolids. If the biosolids also meet applicable quality
Thermal Treatment 275

standards with respect to trace metals and synthetic organics, they may be sold
without restriction for use on all crops.
The pellets must also comply with federal, state, and local standards
governing marketing and distribution of biosolids as a fertilizer.
Depending upon the desired outlet, other qualities will determine pellet
marketing success. A very important characteristic is odor, which is largely
dependent upon the type of biosolids processed (e.g., raw, primary, secondary,
digested, etc.).
Heat drying with pelletization generates so far the most acceptable, safe, often
revenue-producing product.
Pellet fertilizer qualities which can be assigned a value, depending upon the
application, include:

Slow-release organic nitrogen content

Micronutrient content

- Organic matter content

Blended fertilizer material conditioning properties
Reduced likelihood of plant nutrient contamination of groundwater
compared to many chemical fertilizers

5. Markets

Biosolids fertilizers meeting regulatory standards can be used for a range of

fertilizer applications from the most basic such as agricultural fertilizer filler to the
more sophisticated such as the feeding of sensitive turf and ornamental plants. As
such, the application opportunities for biosolids exist throughout the U.S. and
Presently ,there is a substantial demand for heat-dried biosolids fertilizers in
the US. The Florida fertilizer industry consumes biosolids-derived products for
agricultural applications including citrus, other fruit, and vegetable fertilization.
Fertilizer blenders can replace currently used lime and clay by biosolids pellets as
a filler material. Non-agricultural applications include golf courses, fairways,
greens and tees; residential and commercial property lawn care; and landscape
plant nursery feeding. Florida is currently the distribution end point for a number
of in- and out-of-state pellet producers. Number of producers and amount of
pellets are expected to increase in upcoming years which may potentially flood the
Florida market. Major new markets outside the primary market area of Florida
should certainly be developed to accommodate the increasing production.
Biosolids product marketing typically involves displacement of existing product
rather than creation of a product to satisfy an unmet demand; and, therefore,
effective marketing depends on a demonstration that the product's benefits exceed
those of competing products [2].
276 Girovich

Typically, biwlids fertilizer prices in Florida range from $1 5 to over $100 per
ton at the point of use and depend largely on nitrogen content (up to $15.00 per
percent point of nitrogen for a good quality product). Products with established
reputation and guaranteed nutrient composition, such as Milorganite, command
signilicanehigher prices in the fertilizer market ($90 - $120 per ton). Future price
dynamics will depend upon supply-demand relationship with a possibility of
si@cant price decrease due to flooding of the prime Florida market. New markets
must be developed, especiallynear production plants to Sustain reasonable price.
The production of a fertilizer from the municipal biosolids offers a viable
management solution for many municipalities with sufficient biosolids generation,
especially those located in densely populated areas. This option is stimulatedthrough
s i m c a n t improvement in biosolids quality throughout the U.S. and it grows quite
rapidly. At present, large biosolids heat drymg facilities operate in New York, New
York; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Boston, Massachusetts; Tampa and Largo, Florida,
Baltimore, Maryland; Houston, Texas, and other locations with total annual design
capacity of over 350,000 dry tons. A list of heat drymg and pelletizing facilities
producing commercial fertilizer in the U.S. is provided in Table 6-1.
By the end of the 1990's, heat dried bimlids production for fertilizer application
in the U.S. is projected to increase from the current 0.3 million tons approximatelyto
in excess of 0.5 million tons per year with the majority of this amount being utilized
in the South. This production level will still comprise only a small portion of the total
U.S. chemical fertilizer consumption (approximately50 million tons annually).

B. Partially Dried Biosolids

Bimlids can be dned partially, i.e. to less than 90% TS, (typically in the 40% - 70%
TS range), in order to reduce volume prior to land application or landfilling. Partially
dried biosolids are used also for subsequent autogeneous incineration.
Landfilling of partially dried biosolids is typically practiced when they contain
trace metals and other pollutants in excess of the limits established by the 503
Regulations and could not be used as a fertilizer. Other requirements of landfilling
should also be met.
Partial drymg of biosolids makes economic sense mainly because it reduces the
volume and cost of disposal.
Heat +g is alsoutilized to reduce or eliminate the amount of external
energy required for biosolids incineration (i.e., to reach an autogenous
Thermal Treatment 277


Location Capacity, dtd
(Evaporation Pollution Control

Wilwaukee, 200.0 Direct rotary drum 1925

Wisconsin (12 x 4.1) drying, cyclones & (renovated in
electrostatic 1994)

Zlayton 32.0 Direct rotary drum 1980

County, (2 x 2.0) drying, wood chip

Largo, Florida 36.0 Direct rotary drum 1976

(2.5) drying, after-burners (renovated in
~ 1993)

Cobb County, 32.0 Direct rotary drum 1980

Georgia (2 x 2.0) drying, chemical

Tampa, 64.0 Direct rotary drum 1987

Florida (2 x 4.0) drying, after-burners

Hagerstown, 14.0 Direct rotary drum 1990

Maryland (1.5) drying, chemical

Boston, 130.0 Direct rotary drum 1991

Massachusetts (4 x 4.5) drying, after-burners

New York, 300.0 Direct rotary drum 1993

New York (6 x 5.0) drying, after-burners

Houston, 90.0 Flash drying 1976 (7)

Texas (9 x 1.0) 1987 (2)

Baltimore, 1 10.0 Indirect multitray 1994

Maryland (3 x 4.5) dryers (3)
278 Girovich

Pollution Control

* Design capacity available in 1995.

incineration). The dried biosolids contain a substantial amount of energy (5,000 -

9,000 BTUAb, dry weight) and can be used as a fuel.
Two methods of bimlids drylng are used for autogenous or partially autogenous

1. The entire amount of biosolids is dried to an autogenous level (typically 40%

TS) and then fed into an incinerator.
Thermal Treatment 279

2. A portion of biosolids is dried to no less than 90% TS and mixed with wet
biosolids feed to arrive at an autogenous level prior to feeding an incinerator.
A portion of the dried biosolids can also be diverted for marketing as a

Biosolids drying for autogenous incineration is most popular in Europe and

Japan where cost of energy is high and the biosolids use as a fertilizer is limited.
A substantial number of incineration systems there employ indirect horizontal
dryers to dry biosolids to autogenous level prior to incineration.
The second method can be used for a dual purpose system, i.e. for
simultaneous production of pellet fertilizer andor incineration during inclement
weather or market downturns. (See Figure 6-16)


Diversity of materials to be dried and relatively high capital cost of drying systems
resulted in the evolution of many dryer and drying process designs. Drying is
essentially the process of thermally removing volatile substances (above all,
moisture in case of biosolids) to yield a dry product. All dryers are evaporators,
i.e., they convert water to vapor which expands the volume about 1500 times thus
expelling the vapors. Moisture in biosolids may be either free (unbound) or
biologically and chemically bound. During the first stage of drying, the drying
(evaporation) rate is constant. The biosolids particle surface contains free moisture
which evaporates at constant rate. At the end of the constant rate period moisture
has to be transported from the inside of the particle to the surface by capillary and
diffusion forces and the drying rate begins to fall. As the dry surface develops on
the particles and as the free moisture content is lowered by drying, the rate of
internal movement of this moisture decreases and the drying rate falls continuously.
The bound moisture evaporation proceeds even more slowly for it requires
breaking the biological cell structure or chemical structure of compounds having
bound water in their composition. As a result, the drying rate falls even more
This is of course the mechanism of all solids drying processes but it is
considerably complicated by many other factors, such as mechanical agitation,
mixing, etc. In the direct rotary drum dryers, for example, biosolids cascade
through the dryers with the cascading interrupted by the "resting in flights" periods.
In indirect drying, the solids are agitated and mixed by paddles, discs, stationary
bars, etc. These mechanical motions are design-specific: and, therefore, the process
is extremely difficult to describe in mathematical equations of heat and mass
280 Girovich









Thermal Treatment 281

Extensive work has been done in developing theories of drying. A systematic

comprehensive review and classification of drying processes and dryers is beyond
the scope of this book and the reader is referred to specialized sources [3], [4],[5],
The most common classification of drying is based on methods of heat
transfer, namely: 1) conduction or indirect drying; 2) convection or direct drying;
3) radiant drying and 4) dielectric (microwave) drying. Freeze drying can be
classified as a special case of conduction drying. Dryers can also be classified
based on the type of drying hardware (rotary drum, fluidized bed, spray, tray,
conveyor, etc.), mode of operation (continuous, batch), residence time, etc.
Both indirect and direct drying processes are used in biosolids treatment
(Figure 6-1):

1. Indirect (conductive) drying uses a heat medium such as steam, thermal oil or
hot gas to heat a metal surface over which biosolids are transported. Conduction
transfers heat from the hot metal surface to the cooler particles and then between
the particles. It is the principal heat transfer mode for indirect dryers. Indirect
drying is a solid-liquid-vapor system and the process is nonadiabatic, i.e., heat is
added from outside to the dryer.
In indirect drying, solids and water can be heated above the water's boiling
point. Indirect drying is more efficient and uniform when agitation brings cooler,
wet particles into contact with the heating surface.
Heat transfer fluids in the indirect drying may be of either the condensing
type (e.g. steam) or the liquid type (e.g., hot water, oils). Indirect drying has
several distinctive features: 1) cross contamination is avoided since the product
does not contact the heating medium; 2) since a very small amount of air is
introduced, air handling, cleaning and odor control is considerably less expensive;
and 3) fire and explosion potential in the dryers is reduced significantly.
Examples of indirect dryers are horizontal "en masse" (hollow disc, paddle,
screw, etc.), vertical multi-tray, rotary, mechanically fluidized bed dryers, etc.

2. Direct (convection)drying heats the biosolids by contacting them directly with

hot gas (air). Direct drying uses relatively large amounts of hot air (usually mixed
with combustion products). Convection transfers heat between adjacent volumes
of hot air and particles, within porous particles and outside of all particles. It is the
principal heat transfer mode for direct drying. Direct drying is a solid-liquid-
vapor-gas system and the process is adiabatic, i.e., no heat is added or taken from
the dryer, assuming perfect insulation [4].
In direct drying, water and solids are not heated much above the wet-bulb
temperature which is well below the water's boiling point. The higher water vapor
pressure drives water vapor into the gas which has a low vapor pressure. Drying
stops when these two pressures are equal.
282 Girovich

Direct dryers may use hot air, combustion products, inert gas, and superheated
vapor as the heating medium. Examples of direct dryers are rotary drum,fluidized
bed, flash, spray and conveyor dryers. Direct rotary drum dryers are the
workhorses of biosolids drying; they are the least expensive of all dryers and have
high unit capacity.
However, all direct dryers have a common disadvantage: the amount of
heating medium (usually hot air mixed with products of combustion) is large which
results in energy loss in the exhaust and requires expensive air handling and
poilution control equipment to clean the gas prior to its discharge to the
atmosphere. This serious disadvantage can be neutralized to a certain degree by
using drying air recirculation as described in the following sections.
Both drying processes are complex. Drying involves a number of physical
and chemical processes such as heat and mass transfer, mixing, combustion,
conveying, size separation, psychrometry,evaporation, etc. So far, however, there
is very little help and transfer from the theoretical studies to the drying practice.
Drying is still more art than science and more so for biosolids drying.


Numerous dryer designs have evolved for drying of various products including
biosolids. Table 6-2 depicts dryer design availability and use for biosoiids drying
in the USA (1995).

Dryer Design Direct Indirect Installations in

the USA
1. Rotary drum, single pass A A 14 (direct)
2. Rotary drum, triple pass A NA 19 (direct)
3. Horizontal, "en masse" NA A 8
4. Multi-tray A A 3 (indirect)
5. Flash A NA 9 (direct)
6. Fluid bed A A 1 (direct)
7. Conveyor A A 0
8. Spray A NA 0

A = commercially available
NA = commercially not available
Thermal Treatment 283

The following dryer designs are currently used in the U.S.A. for commercial
production of biosolids-derived fertilizer (Table 6-2):

Rotary drum, single and triple pass, direct drying (9 operational installations,
over 30 dryers)
Horizontal "en masse", indirect drying (6 operational installations, 8 dryers,
including partial drying for autogenous incineration)
rn Flash dryer, direct type (4 operational installations, 9 dryers)
Multi-tray, indirect drying (one operational plant, 3 dryers)

There are also a few pilot installations in the U.S.A. using radiation heated
dryers and directly heated fluidized bed dryers. Dielectric heating has not yet
developed beyond the experimental phase.

A. Direct Dryers

1. Rotary Drum Dtyers

In the rotary drum dryers, drying air supplies the heat and carries off the evaporated
moisture. Volume of drying air is the most important factor which determines the
dryer and the drying system cost. The best drying energy efficiency is achieved at
the highest air inlet and the lowest air outlet temperatures. These temperatures are
limited by various factors (fire hazard, type of fuel, design of the heat generator,
sensitivity of the end product, water condensation at the downstream equipment,
Direct rotary drum dryers typically use cocurrent air flow which allows high
inlet temperature, up to (900°F) for biosolids. Exit temperature varies
within 85"- (180"-200°F). In cocurrent flow with high inlet temperature
the moisture does not protect the small particles from over-heating and potential
fire; however, the drying is fastest in this case. Most drying takes place as the
solids cascade off lifting flights (or get fluidized) and the air passes around them.
The dryer shell also heats the solids.
In rotary dryers, solids are moved through the shell by the combined effect
of air flow, gravity, internal flight design, speed of rotation and the shell slope.
Baffles and dam rings are also used to retard the forward motion of the solids and
to increase their residence time. Evaporation of free water typically occurs in
minutes. The smaller particles dry faster and are carried off more readily and often
are overdried. Their removal and return to the process may be troublesome for it
requires special air-solids separation and transport techniques.
The end product physical characteristicsimportant for biosolids beneficial use
are moisture content, particle size distribution, density and amount of dust. Due
to rapid evaporation in cocurrent rotary dryers, a particle's density often decreases
284 Girovich

and particle sue distribution widens. Significant amounts of fine particles (dust)
are produced by abrasion and overheating.
Typical rotary drum speeds are between 5 and 25 rpm depending upon the
drum's diameter. The percent of the shell loading is typically 10 to 20 percent and
the solids retention time is 10 to 25 minutes. Drying air retention time is only
several seconds. Single pass and triple pass direct rotary dryers are used to dry
At low capacities and low gas temperatures, direct drum dryers lose their cost
The biosolids fed into the dryer must be a post glue-like phase, granular (i.e.,
50 - 60% TS) material, therefore, dry material recycling and backmixing is
required to avoid sticky biosolids inside the dryers and to generate a pelletized
product. Dry,fine material recycling and backmixing in the upstream mechanical
mixer is extremely important because it forms wet pellets (50-65%TS) in the mixer
which are subsequently dried in the dryer resulting in high quality pelletized
product with 90-95%TS.
Two types of direct rotary drum dryers are used in biosolids drying: single
and triple pass. The triple pass dryer (Figure 6-2, courtesy Baker-Rullman, Inc.)
technical data is provided in Table 6-3. Fourteen single pass and nineteen triple
pass rotary drum dryers are currently (1995) used in the USA for biosolids drying
and pelletizing.


(courtesy of Baker-Rullman, Inc.)

1. Biosolidsfeed at 20% TS; product at 2 90% TS; dry recycle; 24 hour day.
2. Dry air inlet = 480°C (900"F), outlet = 85°C (180°F).
3. MBH = million BTU/hr; ACFM = actual cubicfeet per minute; dmtd = dry
metric ton per day.



Fig.6-2 TRIPLE: PASS ROTARY DRUM D R n R (Courtesy of Baker Rullman Co.)

286 Girovich

Numerous other single and triple pass dryers are used in Canada, Europe and
Japan for biosolids drying. The rotary drum dryer is the most widely used design
with the lowest capital cost.
Disadvantages of direct rotary dryers, especially ones without drying air
recirculation (so called open-cycle system), include: heat losses in the dryer's
exhaust; use of expensive systems to clean large amounts of air from particulate
and gaseous pollutants including odors often with application of costly
afterburners; potential for dust fire and explosion,
Flash Drver (FD) is a direct type, cocurrent unit that is essentially a long
vertical tube with no moving parts (similar to pneumatic conveyance). The FDs
have short solids residence time (0.5-3.5 seconds) and high unit evaporation rate.
Good mass and heat transfer rates are obtained due to high relative velocity
between the feed and drying air.
Typically, @/wet biosolids mixture is fed in a cage mill where hot gas is also
introduced. Drying occurs in the mill, ductwork and partially in the cyclones.
Dried material is separated from drying air in the cyclones. Vapors are burned in
the heat generator ( h a c e ) . The FD do not produce high quality pellets. The FDs
are used in biosolids drying in the USA by the City of Houston, Texas (nine flash
dryers by C-E RaymondCombustion Engineering Co.). Houactinite, a biosolids
derived product produced in Houston is marketed primarily in Florida.
Disadvantages are: complex operation and potential for fire.
Fluid bed h e r s fFBD) are also direct, cocurrent units. The FBD involves the
suspension of solid particles in upwardly moving hot air, which is introduced
through a distribution plate. The FBD are usually of direct type, however, in recent
years indirect FBD have been introduced. The biosolids feed must be granular and
backrnixing and feed grinding before drying is typically required; particles should
not be so heavy that they drop out. Retention time is very short (few seconds)
because air velocity must be kept above a certain minimum. The FBD do not
produce a high quality pelletized product; however, the end product is marketable.
Numerous fluid bed dryer designs are available (stationary, vibrated fluid bed,
continuous fluid bed, mechanically agitated, etc.) However, only a few
experimental FBDs for biosolids fertilizer production are in operation in the USA.
Disadvantages include: poorly granulated product; potential for dust
fires/explosions and complex operation.
Convevor Drvers use steel belt, screw or vibrating trough to carry the
biosolids through a directly or indirectly heated chamber. Depending upon the
design, hot air may or may not pass through the bed of biosolids on the conveyor.
Indirect conveyor dryer may use radiation as a means of heating.
Thermal Treatment 287

B. Indirect Dryers

Indirect dryers also come in a variety of designs. The most popular design is
horizontal, "en-masse" (i.e., moving, mixing and drying biosolids in a plug or semi-
plug flow fashion) type. In this design, biosolids are simultaneously heated, dried
and transported horizontally from the feed to the discharge end. Other types of
indirect dryers include multi-tray, fluidized bed, rotary drum and conveyor designs.
Indirect "en masse" dryers come in a variety of shapes and forms. Some units
have single rotors while others may have two or more. Flights may be fully
circular (disc), helical (heated screws), blade-like (paddles) or circular segments.
Flight cross sections may be tapered, parallel, or wedge shaped. The stator
(housing) is horizontal and it may be cylindrical, U-shaped or ox-bow in section.
The indirect dryers use very little or no drying air and as a result they are
generally more energy efficient than direct ones. The energy required to operate
dryers is delivered by an external energy source, typically steam boiler or thermal
oil heater. The heat is transferred from hot metal surface to biosolids.
A significant number of proprietary horizontal "en massel' designs have been
developed by various manufacturers (Stord, Bepex, BUSS, Blaw-Knox,
Tsukishima Kikai, Nara Machines, Komline-Sanderson, and others).
Indirect disc dryer (Figure 6-3, courtesy of Stord, Inc.) data is provided in
Table 6-4.
In the disc (flight) dryer, the external surface of the discs (flights) provides
85 to 100% of the total heat transfer surface of the dryer. The heat transfer
medium, usually steam, flows into the discs (flights), and is discharged as
condensate after transferring its latent energy to the product. Other thermal
mediums, such as hot water or hot oil, may be used as well.
The filly circular, hollow discs of the Stord dryer (Figure 6-3) provide a
smooth heat transfer surface, which reduces fouling, product accumulation in
"dead" spots and wear. The rotor rotates at a constant speed [7].
The discs are fabricated of carbon or stainless steel, or a combination of both.
The stator is filled with biosolids so that the rotor is submerged and the heating
surface is almost fully utilized. Agitator (scraper) bars are mounted fiom the stator,
ending just above the rotor shaft at the base of the discs. Large paddles are
mounted on the tips of the discs and each disc has a combination of neutral and
adjustable paddles.
A portion of the upper part of the stator extends into a plenum to form a vapor
dome. The vapor exits from the dome near the product inlet where the evaporation
rate is the greatest.
Wet biosolids enter the dryer near the top of the unit on one end and the
finished product exits the dryer at the opposite end. The dryer is operated as a
'lclosedl' unit. No air is deliberately allowed to enter and the exhaust is nearly pure


/ I

Fig.6-3 INDIRECT DISC DRYER (Courtesy of Stord, Inc.)

Thermal Treatment 289


Parameter Unit Range

;I 1
Heating Surface

Evaporation Capacity 450 - 3,500 I

3 I Weight I tons, metric 12 - 75 I
Horsepower kLca1 30 - 200
Number of discs

Specific Thermal Rate 650 - 670(')

kg H2O

7 Specific Evaporation Rate kg H,O

(SEW m2 hr.

1. Feed: 22% - 30% TS; product: 25% - 95% TS; no recycle, constant rate
heat transfer.
2. Product at 95% TS. SER increases to 16.0 ifproduct is at 35% TS. Lower
values of STR and SER are for higher product dryness. 100% surface
3. SER - Specific evaporation rate, STR - Specific Thermal Rate, see Section IV
of this Chapter.

vapor. It is intended that biosolids co-rotate with the rotor. However, simultaneous
co-rotation is prevented by the agitator bars. The disc tip paddles aid the
progression of the product in both rotational and longitudinal directions. The
biosolids travel through the dryer in a plug flow fashion, and they must pass
through the annulus formed between the inner wall of the stator and the tips of the
discs. Heat is transferred from the heat transfer surface to the biosolids by contact
and by internal distribution of the heat in the product.
Disc dryers manufactured by Stord, Inc. are used in the USA primarily for
production of partially dried biosolids for landfilling, land application or
subsequent incineration. In order to produce biosolids pellets, mechanical
pelletizing equipment is added to the dryer. Twelve Stord disc dryers are currently
used to dry biosolids in the USA. Five of them produce dried biosolids for
subsequent incineration (Buffalo, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Los Angeles, CA).
F’ig.6-4 SOLID PADDLE DRYER (Courtesy of Tsukishima Kikai Co.)
Thermal Treatment 291


(Courtesy of Komline Sanderson)
Parameter Unit

Evaporation Capacity kg/hr 35 - 1,500 1,600 - 3,000




40 - 70

45 - 95
5 Specific Thermal Rate kcal 650 - 680(')
(STR) kg H2O
Specific Evaporation 10 - 16")
Rate (SER) m2 8 hr.

Lower values are for higher product dryness.

Indirect two or four shaft Nara Daddle drvers manufactured by Komline-

Sanderson, Inc. have hollow steam (or oil) heated rotors and hollow heated wedge
shaped, self-cleaning blades. The omega shaped stator (trough) is also heated.
Typical rotor speed is 10 - 30 rpm. Major Nara paddle dryer technical data are
provided in Table 6-5.
Other types of indirect horizontal dryers, solid paddle and inclined flight are
shown in Figures 6-4 and 6-5 respectively (courtesy of Tsukishima Kikai Co.).
Solid paddle dryer (Figure 6-4) has multiple solid (not heated) paddles
installed onto the hollow steam heated rotor contained in the hollow steam heated
stator (housing). Heat is conducted through stator and rotor to the biosolids. Rotor
moves at relatively high circumferential speed (5 - 15 m/sec). The paddles
perform multiple actions: agitate, scrap, transfer and granulate (particle size: 2 -
15 mm). Disadvantages are: short retention time (1 - 5 min.); high product
moisture content (40% - 6O%TS); relatively high electric power demand.
Currently no paddle dryers of this type are in use in the USA. Paddle dryers are
used mainly in Japan to dry biosolids prior to incineration. Specific evaporation
rate (SER) is in the 9 to 18 (kg H20/m28 hr.) range. Lower value of the SER is for
higher product dryness.
Steam heated inclined flight dryer (Figure 6-5) originates from the jacketed
dual-shaft screw conveyors. Both rotor and stator conduct heat. Biosolids are
transported and mixed by solid (not heated) flights in a plug-flow fashion
eliminating the need for paddles or scraper bars. The rotor speed is relatively high

F'ig.6-5 INCLINED FLIGHT DRYER (Courtesy of Tsukishima Kikai Co.)

Thermal Treatment 293

(30 - 45 rpm) which ensures good mixing and heat transfer. Typical product
dryness is in 45 - 60% TS; SER is 10 - 20 kg H,0/m2 -hr. Granulation is poor (5
- 40 mm, with lumps). These dryers are also used in Japan for drying prior to
incineration or for volume reduction.
Advantages of the en masse horizontal dryers include: compact, horizontal
arrangement; effective utilization of heating surface; relatively high energy
efficiencyand low cost of environmentalcontrol. Disadvantagesare: end product
is poorly granulated, dusty with lumps. Production of high quality pellets is not
feasible without additional processing ( e g , mechanical compaction, milling,
screening, etc.).
Indirect multi-tray drver (Figure 6-6, courtesy of Wheelabrator Clean Water
Systems, Inc.) is a vertical multi-tray dryer to which biosolids are fed via the top
inlet and moved by rotating arms equipped with adjustable scrapers from one
hollow, oil heated tray to another in a zigzag motion until they exit at the bottom
as a dried, pelletized product with dryness in excess of 90% TS. The rotating arms
are installed on a vertical shaft rotated by a variable speed drive. The dryer's
doughnut-shaped trays are heated by recirculating thermal oil.
The dryer's scrapers move and tumble biosolids over the tray's heated metal
surface in small windrows and thin layers (30-60 mm) constantly exposing new
surfaces for heating and thus improving heat transfer. Only top surface of the tray
is in contact with biosolids.
Multi-tray dryers are typically fed by a biosolids mixture with 55-75% TS to
avoid glue-like plastic phase inside the dryer and, therefore, they require dried
material recycle and backmixing. The biosolids mixture is prepared upstream of
the dryer by mixing dry fine recycled material (2 90% TS) with wet biosolids
(20-30% TS).
In the upstream mixer, dry particles, which form a nucleus of hture pellets,
are coated with wet biosolids-forming pellets with a dry core and thin wet coat. In
the dryer, only the outside thin (0.1-0.2 mm), wet layer has to be dried. In the
drying systems based on the multi-tray dryer this process is repeated several times
until the pellets grow to a predetermined size and then removed for beneficial use.
As a result of this "pearling"process, water evaporation is more effective and heat
transfer rates are higher than in the "en masse" dryers. Pellets produced by this
process tend to have higher bulk density and less dust than other dryers.
Indirect multi-tray dryers are licensed from Seghers Engineering Company
(Belgium) and marketed under a trade-name PelletechO by Wheelabrator Clean
Water Systems, Inc., Bio Gro Division [ll], 11141. Major multi-tray PelletechB
technical data are provided in Table 6-6.
Advantages of the multitray dryer are: low cost of environmental control;
high heat transfer rates; low power consumption; high quality of pellets with
narrow particle size distribution and minimum dust; small footprint due to vertical
294 Girovich


(Courtesy of Wheelabrator Clean Water
System, Inc.)
Thermal Treatment 295

Disadvantages are: significant vertical space required; relatively high weight

and cost; only half of the heating surface is fully utilized.


(courtesy of WCWS)

I. Only top tray surface is in contact with biosolids.

2. Feed @ 65% TS; pellets @ 2 90% TS; dry recycle; oil @ (500°F).
3. Lower values are for higherfeed dryness.


A. Evaporation Capacity

Biosolids quantity is expressed in either dry or wet weights. Dry and wet weights
are related as follows:

D =Wed ............................ (6-1)

D = dry weight
W = wet weight
d = biosolids dryness, TOTS
296 Girovich

20 25 30


A dryer's throughput, whether it is direct or indirect, can be measured by its
evaporation capacity and by its dry weight capacity. Traditionally in the U.S.
throughput is expressed in dry tonnage (e.g., dry ton per day); however, it is often
more useful to express production in terms of evaporation capacity (e.g., tons of
water evaporated per unit of time). The relationship between the dryer's
evaporation capacity (E) and dry weight capacity (D) is:

E =D (k i)-
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6-2)

E = evaporation capacity, i.e., weight of water evaporated per unit of time;

D = dry weight capacity (throughput), i.e., weight of biosolids dried to 100% TS
per unit of time;
d , do = biosolids input and output dryness (%TS).
Thermal Treatment 297

For example, if the biosolids input dryness is 22% TS, the end product
dryness is 92% TS, and dry biosolids throughput required is 1.O dry tonhour, then
the evaporation rate needed is E = 1.0(1/.22 - U.92) = 3.46 tons of water.
Evaporation rate more than any other process parameter determines the size and,
therefore, cost of the dryer and drying system.
Biosolids feed dryness is the most significant process parameter which
determines the dryer energy requirements. Figure 6-8 illustrates that at the
biosolids feed dryness of 30% TS the evaporation rate and amount of energy
required to dry one ton (2,000 lbs.) of dry biosolids is almost two times less than
at the feed dryness of 18% TS.
Assuming the cost of energy at $4.50 per million BTU, the feed dryness
increase from 18% TS to 30% TS will save approximately $34 per dry ton of
Figure 6-8 also illustrates that the higher feed dryness increases the drying
system's evaporation rate or, in other words, the same system can process more
biosolids if the feed has higher solids content.
For indirect dryers, it is also useful to express the dryer's evaporation capacity
as amount of water evaporated per unit of heating surface per unit of time, i.e., by
using Specific Evaporation Rate (SER). The SER indicates how efficient the
indirect dryer heating surface is utilized.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6-3)

SER = specific evaporation rate, kg/m**hror BTU/ft2*hr
E = total dryer evaporation capacity, kg (lbs) of water evaporated per hour
S = indirect dryer heating surface, mz (ft2).

Heat transfer in the indirect dryers occurs typically in several zones: heating,
constant rate drying and falling rate drying. For each zone, the SER will be
The SER can be obtained from a dryer's manufacturer. The SER allows one
to quickly estimate the amount of heating surface for a required evaporation

B. Energy and Drying Air Requirements

All dryers, direct or indirect, require an external source of heat energy. Usually
dryers are fired on natural gas or oil. Digester gas or other sources of heat energy
can also be utilized.
298 Girovich

A dryer can be characterized by the amount of heat energy required to

evaporate a weight unit of water expressed as kilocalories per kilogram or BTU per
pound of water evaporated (kcaykg or BTU/lb).
Total amount of heat energy required by a dryer is:

QT= Q l + Q2+ Q,+ Q4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6-4)

Q1= energy required to heat dry substance in the feed;

Q2= energy required to heat water in the feed up to an evaporation temperature;
Q3= energy required to evaporate water and to heat water vapor;
Q4= dryer's heat losses (for well insulated dryers it is usually less than 1% of total
energy required).

Q, is the largest energy component (approximately 970 BTU per pound of

water, or 540 kcalkg at standard conditions).
The heat losses also occur outside the dryers (in conveyance, feed and product
handling systems, air pollution control, afterburners, etc.) and, as a result, the
overall drying system's energy demand is considerablyhigher than that of the dryer
proper, usually by 10% to 20%depending on the drying system design and energy
recovery provisions.
It is useful to characterize dryers by their specific thermal rate (STR), i.e.,
amount of heat energy required to evaporate a unit of water. The greater the STR
the less efficient is the dryer.

STR = Specific Thermal Rate, kcaykg (BTU/lb) of water evaporated;

QT= total amount of energy required, kcal (BTU) per hour;
E = evaporation capacity, kg (lbs) of water evaporated.

The average STR for modem dryers is typically in the 640 - 780 kcal per kg
of water range (1,150 - 1,400 BTU/lb) depending on inlet and outlet temperatures
of drying and heating mediums, dryer's throughput, design, etc. As with the SERs,
the STRs are different for different heating zones. The STRs are provided and
must be guaranteed by a dryer's manufacturer.
The overall drying system's STR is higher than that of the dryer proper. Mass
and energy balance calculations are performed to determine the dryer's heat
Thermal Treatment 299

requirements, heating surface, heating medium flow, evaporation rate, and other
dryer parameters. The following input data are typically required:

0 biosolids feed rate, moisture content and inlet temperature

product moisture content and temperature
drying air conditions (for direct dryers)
heating medium type, temperature and heat transfer rates (for indirect dryers)

Major calculating needs are associated with determination of heat needed for
evaporation and, for direct dryers, amount of drying air. Calculations alone do not
complete a design. Experience, manufacturer's data and tests are essential
components of dryer and drying process design.

a. Indirect Dryers

Heat transfer in the indirect dryers occurs typically in three zones: heating,
constant rate and falling rate drying.
In the first zone, wet biosolids are heated by hot metal surface of the dryer
and the heat transfer coefficient is initially high due to high temperature differential
and abundance of free water. As biosolids temperature rises, the heat transfer
begins to fall. In the second zone, the entire mass is heated almost to a boiling
point (100°C) and evaporation of ffee water is essentially completed at the end of
the zone. This zone is characterized by an approximately constant heat transfer
coefficient. In the third zone, water bound in the biosolids is evaporated, and as the
biosolids dryness increases it becomes more and more difficult to evaporate the
remaining water. The heat transfer coefficient falls sharply.
Figure 6-8 illustrates an indirect drying process in the horizontal steam heated
dryer. Moisture content of the feed and heat transfer rates are plotted against
dryer's length [7]. Typically, about 15 percent of dryer length (heating surface) is
used to reach the boiling point, 25 percent of the length is at the constant and 60
percent is at the falling heat transfer rates.
For each zone, amount of heat energy transferred from the heating surface to
the product is defined as follows (heat losses are not included):

Q = heat transferred, kcaVhr or BTU/hr;

S = heating surface, m2(ft2);
T, = log mean temperature difference, "C (OF);
U = heat transfer coefficient (different for different zones);
kcaVm2*"C-hror BTU/ftz*"F*hr
300 Girovich

. . . . . .. . . . 05-71

ti, to= biosolids temperatures, inlet and outlet, "C (OF);

Ti, To= heating medium temperatures, inlet and outlet (steam, oil); "C ( O F )

Heat transfer coefficients, U,are typically in the 40 - 80 kcaVm2*"C=hror 8

- 16 BTU/ft2-"Phr range with higher values for the constant rate zone.

Indirect dryer calculations are based on mass and energy balance using heat
transfer coefficients obtained experimentally for various drying zones. These
calculations are quite straightforward and center around determining evaporation
capacity, heat energy and amount of heating medium flow needed, taking into
account feed and product moisture and temperature, heat medium type (steam, oil)
and temperatures, heat sources and losses, etc.

Thermal Fluid vs. Steam

Thermal fluid heating systems provide certain advantages as compared to steam.
Thermal fluid heating systems are used typically for process temperatures
beyond the range of steam. It is often overlooked that thermal fluid systems are
economical compared to steam heating, even at temperatures where steam can be
used easily.
As the steam temperatures increase, so does pressure. For a steam
temperature of 187"C, the steam pressure is 10.54 kg/cm2 (150 psig). This
increases to 30 kg/cm2(425 psig) for steam temperatures of 230°C. Such high
pressure steam systems are expensive to install and operate. This is the main
reason for selecting thermal fluid versus steam.
Heat transfer fluids (thermal oil) are manufactured from refmed petroleum,
synthetically formulated hydrocarbons or siloxanes (silicone). They are able to
provide high temperature at very low vapor pressures. Thermal oil systems, if used
properly, offer safety, low maintenance and extended operating lifetimes.
For process temperatures of about and above, thermal fluid heating is
superior to steam heating in almost all respects.
Thermal fluid heating uses only sensible heat since it is in a liquid state.
Hence, there are no "condensate losses." This is one of the reasons why the
thermal fluid heating system has better efficiency than steam.
Thermal fluids have relatively high boiling points, depending upon their
application. The operating pressures of thermal fluid systems are from 5 to 15
m U
I &:
I _-- r
E -1----1---- - - --I----
2 1.600
2. 40
Y& '
1,200 - E 30 40
8 n
3 V

F aoo - 20 60

400 - 5 10 80

8 1
I I 1 I

0 I 20 40 1 60 a0


302 Girovich

The selection of thermal fluids is essentially dependent on the maximum

temperature required by the process. Each thermal fluid has a maximum
temperature recommended by the manufacturer. The life of the fluid is dependent
on the maximum film temperature and not necessarily the bulk temperatures.
When the fluid is being heated, the film of fluid adjacent to the tubewall and
exposed to the flame is at a higher temperature than the average temperature of the
fluid at that point. For a well-designed heater, the film temperature would be about
30°C higher than the bulk temperature.
The heart of the thermal fluid system is a heater where the fluid is heated.
The hot fluid is pumped to the process to give up its heat and then returned to the
heater. The fluid expands considerably during heating so an expansion tank is
required to prevent system overpressure.
The thermal fluid heater is generally a forced circulation unit. Sufficient
velocities, about 3 to 5 m/s, are maintained in the coil to prevent overheating of the
fluid. The licensed boiler engineer is not required to operate thermal oil heater.
The thermal fluid system does have disadvantages:

Petroleum-based thermal fluids are flammable, and some of them are toxic,
so precautions have to be taken. Accidents have happened, but very few in
chemical plants with good maintenance. Care must be taken in using thermal
fluid systems because any leakage may have serious consequences.
Temperature control is more complex than in a condensing system (like
steam) though temperature control of 2 to can be achieved.
The heat transfer coefficients on the thermal fluid side are lower than steam
condensing coefficients. But the higher temperature of thermal fluid
increases the overall heat transfer rate. In practice, the heat transfer rate is
always equal to or more than that of steam.
When the process needs a cooling cycle, design of heat exchanger for cooling
the thermal fluid is quite complex.

Measures must be taken to prevent oil leakage, to avoid water in the system
and maintain the system's tightness and cleanliness. Only high temperature closed-
cell insulation should be used in leakage-prone areas; the system's equipment
(pipes, pumps, expansion joints, strainers, gaskets, packing seals, flanges, etc.)
must be in accordance with pertinent standards and best engineering practice.
The amount of thermal oil or steam flow for indirect drying can be
determined using formulae (6-8), (6-9) and (6-10) below. Formulae (6-9) and (6-
10) are used for noncondensing heating medium (thermal oil, hot water) and
formula (6-8) for the condensing medium (steam).
Thermal Treatment 303

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6-8)

.............. (6-9)

Formula (6-9) can be written as follows:

F =
QT . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6-10)

m = mass flow of heating medium, kg/hr (lbhr)
Q T = total amount of energy required, kcaVhr (BTUhr)
C, = specific heat, kcaVkg."C or BTU/lb*"F
Ti, To= heating medium temperature, inlet and outlet, "C ( O F )
hi, h, = heating medium enthalpies, inlet and outlet, kcaVkg (BTU/lb)
d = density of thermal oil at operating temperature, Ib/gal
F =thermal oil flow, gpm

For example, to evaporate four (4.0) tons of water per hour in an indirect
dryer with the STR = 1,260 BTU/lb, the amount of heat energy required is:
QT= STR x 4.0 x 2,000 = 1,260 x 4.0 x 2,000 = 10 million BTU/hr, approx.
(STR, Specific Thermal Rate, can be obtained kom the dryer's manufacturer data).
Using formula (6-lo), (thermal oil with C, = 0.65, d = 6.2 lb/gal; Ti = 450°F;
To= 410°F) flow of thermal oil through the dryer:

F = 10 x lo6 : 0.65 : 6.2: (450 - 410) : 60 = 1,034 gpm

b. Direct Drvers

Calculations for direct dryers with hot air as a drying medium are quite different
from those for indirect dryers. They are also based on mass and energy balance but
involve the psychrometric relations of moist air.
304 Girovich

In the direct dryers, as soon as wet biosolids particles come into contact with
drying air, evaporation begins from the saturated vapor film which is quickly
established at the particle's surface. The temperature of the biosolids particle
surface approximates to the wet-bulb temperature of the drying air. At fust, there
is sufficient moisture within the particle to replenish that lost at the surface.
Unbound moisture transport from within the particle maintains saturated surface
conditions and, as long as this is possible, evaporation proceeds at a constant rate.
After a dried shell forms at the particle's surface, evaporation is dependent largely
upon the moisture diffusion through the dried surface and, as a result, evaporation
rates begin to fall.
The addition of heat to a wet particle is insufficient by itself to dry a particle.
Removal of moisture in the direct drying depends upon humidity (moisture
content) of the drying air. To maintain high drying rates, cool humid air around a
particle must be moved away and replaced with hot, low humid air.
Humidity (amount of water vapor or absolute humidity) defines the moisture
content of the air and it depends upon the air temperature and is independent of air
pressure. Absolute humidity is expressed as weight of water vapor per unit weight
of dry air (kgkg DA). Absolute humidities for air-water mixtures (i.e., drying air)
are read directly from psychrometric charts (enthalpy/temperature--humidity).
Relative humidity is water vapor content expressed relative to water content at
saturation at the temperature of the mixture. The mixture relative humidity at
saturation is designated 100%. Saturation temperature (dew point) is the
temperature to which wet air must be cooled at constant pressure to cause
condensation. The dry bulb temperature of air-water mixture can be recorded by
an ordinary thermometer. Wet bulb temperature is recorded by a thermometer
whose surface is saturated with liquid water and exposed to an air-water vapor
mixture. The wet bulb temperature is lower than dry bulb temperature. The wet
bulb temperature corresponds to the temperature at which the air would be
saturated without any change in its heat content. For the saturated mixture wet and
dry bulb and dew point temperatures are the same.
Air-water mixtures are unique in that for all practical purposes, wet bulb and
adiabatic saturation temperatures can be considered identical and wet bulb and
adiabatic cooling lines coincide on psychrometric charts. Psychrometric charts
allow determination of important direct drying process parameters such as
evaporation rates, energy demand and efficiency, drying air parameters, wet bulb
temperature, particle temperature, etc.
Psychrometric charts are often used to illustrate or calculate direct drying
operations. Several forms of psychrometric charts are used.
Mollier charts plot moisture against enthalpy (in metric units) and are widely
used in Europe and elsewhere outside the US. (In the US, Mollier diagram refers
to an enthalpy-entropy chart). The most common US psychrometric chart plots
temperature and enthalpy on the ordinate (Y-axis) against humidity in kgkg of dry
Thermal Treatment 305

air (DA) on the abscissa (X-axis). Psychrometric diagrams along with

computerized calculations are used by direct and indirect dryer manufacturers.
These calculations are design specific and the reader is referred to specialized
sources and manufacturers' data [3], [4], [5].
Typically, dryer calculations are based on a computer program developed by
a dryer manufacturer and vary from one type of dryer to another. Calculations,
however, cannot complete a design. Empirical data, tests, and rules of thumb are
required to transform data into a successful drying system design.
However, a simplified method of determining two major direct dryer
parameters, drying air flow and total heat requirements which are essential for
sizing and estimating the price of the drying system is described below [4].
The nomograph in Figure 6-9 depicts dryer inlet (heavier curved lines) and
outlet temperatures (lighter curved lines). Drying air flow in cubic feet per minute
per pound of evaporated water (cfm/lb) is plotted on the abscissa against specific
thermal rate (STR in BTU per pound of water evaporated) plotted on the ordinate.
The nomograph is based on typical conditions: open cycle drying (once
through drying air flow); atmospheric pressure; air supply temperature 60°F and
0.007 pounds of moisture per pound of dry air; feed at 60°F and 50% TS; heat loss
With natural gas or indirect heat the error in the airflow rate is less than 0.5%.
To correct the heat load, add 4% for natural gas heating and subtract 7.5% for
indirect heating. Both values are roughly 9% higher at 80% TS and 9% lower at
20% TS in the feed [3].
As an example, an 800°F inlet and 200°F outlet temperature lines'
intersection has coordinates of 2.75 and 1500 approximately (Figure 6-9). Thus,
the evaporation rate of 8,000 l b s h (4 to*), an airflow of 2.75 x 8,000 = 22,000
cfm (at the dryer outlet) and a total heat energy demand of 1,500 x 8,000 = 12
million B T U h are required.


A. System Components

Dryers comprise an important,but not the only part of a heat drying system (HDS).
Each HDS contains the following major components:

(1) Dryer
(2) Heat Generator (Furnace)
(3) Feed Preparation and Handling
(4) Dried Product Preparation and Handling
(5) Air Pollution and Odor Control

Drying Air Flow/Evaporation, CFM per poundhour of evaporated water

Thermal Treatment 307

1. Heat Generator (Furnace)

All HDS require an external source of energy to heat the drying air (direct drying)
or heating medium (indirect drying) such as thermal oil or steam. Typically,
natural gas is used by a majority of the existing HDS; however, digester gas and
waste heat from other sources (e.g., incinerator flue gas, steam, gas turbine exhaust,
etc) is utilized also.
For direct HDS, the heat generator (furnace) fired on natural gas is usually a
cylindrical refractory lined chamber with a natural gas or dual fuel burner installed
at the front end. Combustion air fan, burner controls and necessary ductwork are
also part of the heat generator. The burner combustion products reach high
temperature of 1700-1800°C (3 100-3250°F). For direct drying this temperature
is reduced to an acceptable level of 37W50"C (700-850°F) prior to introduction
in the dryer by addition of ambient air or air vented from other parts of the HDS,
other equipment, housing building, etc.
In indirect drying, high temperature combustion products produce steam in
a boiler or heat thermal oil, water or air indirectly.

2. Feed Preparation and Handling

Each HDS requires that the feed (mechanically dewatered biosolids or mixture of
DWB and dry recycled product) be prepared prior to entering the HDS. Commonly
DWB is either conveyed into the dryer without mixing with dry recycle or
DWB/dry recycle mixture is prepared in a mixer (e.g., rotary drum, multi-tray,
fluid bed, flash dryers, etc.). Formation of wet pellets occurs in the mixer and
selection of the mixer's design is very important. Single shaft, high speed pin
mixers or dual shaft relatively slow speed ( 2 W O RPM) paddle mixers (pug mills)
are typically used. Measures must be taken to reduce wear of pins or paddles using
abrasion resistant alloys. Wet pellets should be preserved from deterioration as
much as possible prior to their introduction into the dryer.

3. Dried Product Preparation and Handling

In the modem HDS which produce pelletized biosolids, dry product (290%TS)
exiting the dryer typically undergoes the following treatment:

(1) screening to separate fine, oversized and on-spec ( 1 4 mm) size

(2) recycling the fine fraction to mixer;
(3) reducing (crushing) the oversized fraction and recycling the fine
material to mixer;
308 Girovich

(4) cooling the "on-spec", commercial size pellets prior to storage to no less
than 30°C (90°F) to avoid problems in storage;
(5) storing the commercial pellet fertilizer in silos provided with
overheating and fire and explosion prevention devices.

In the HDS using heat drying with subsequent mechanical pelletizing

additional treatment of dry product is required (i.e., compaction, screening, milling,

4. Air Pollution and Odor Control

Control of particulate matter (PM) and gaseous pollutants including malodorous

compounds has played an extremely important role in the evolution of the HDS.
With air emission and odor control regulations becoming more stringent on federal
and state levels and ever growing public concern about environmental impact of
any industrial process the utmost attention should be given to the design of the
HDS air pollution and odor control equipment.
Historically, removal of particulate matter (dust) was the prime concern.
Initially simple PM removal devices such as cyclones have been used. Later, odor
control was introduced with application of "chemical" scrubbers which use
oxidants (sulfuric acid, caustic, sodium hypochloride, etc.) to control ammonia,
hydrogen sulfide and malodorous organics. Significant improvement in controlling
organics emission, including odors, has become possible with application of
external thermal afterburners. An afterburner is a separate combustion chamber
through which the exhaust gas passes after particulate removal devices and wet
scrubbers. Combustion within the afterburner raises the temperature of exhaust
above the auto-ignition temperature of most hydrocarbon compounds thus
destroying them. The best destruction of organic compounds is achieved at a
temperature above (1400°F) with sufficient turbulence and residence time
(temperature-time-turbulence or "Three T" conditions). Operation above 760 "C
may not be desirable because it increases NO, emissions, especially if biosolids
have an elevated pH (7.0-7.5).
Introduction of indirect, semi-closed and closed cycle direct HDS provides
for another viable option of a considerable decrease in the gas flow and
improvement in many aspects of air emission and odor control.
Currently, all modem HDS are able to comply with existing air emission
standards. However, there is a tendency to apply higher standards locally
depending on local air quality situation. Significantly more stringent air emission
and odor control limits could be imposed in the nonattainment areas under National
Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Serious analysis of applicable
environmental regulations must be done prior to fmal design and selection of the
HDS equipment.
Thermal Treatment 309

B. Handling and Treatment of Drying and Heating Medium

Like the dryers, the HDS can be classified based on the methods of heat transfer
(direct, indirect, radiation, etc.) as described in previous sections. The HDS can
also be classified in accordance with methods of handling and treating their drying
and heating mediums.

1. Direct HDS

Three major groups of direct HDS can be identified depending on the drying
medium flow arrangements: a) open, b) semi-closed and c) closed cycles (Figure
6- 10).
ODen cvcle HDS (Figure 6-10, a) bum fossil fuel (natural gas being most
common) in a furnace. Combustion products are diluted by ambient air or by air
vented from other parts of the HDS, from the housing building, etc. Hot mixture
of combustion products and dilution air (hot drying medium) is then ducted
directly into a dryer (rotary drum,fluid bed, spray or any direct type) at appropriate
temperature and volume.
The drying medium exits the dryer laden with water vapor, particulate and
gaseous matter, including odor pollutants. After removing particulate matter (PM)
in a dry air-solids separator (usually cyclones) the drying medium is cooled to
condense the water vapor. The liquid condensate is then returned to sewer.
Condensation of water vapor is typically accompanied by a wet scrubbing which,
if designed properly, is also capable of removing some fine PM and scrubbing
some gaseous pollutants, such as ammonia, and to a much lesser degree, hydrogen
sulfide, mercaptants, etc. from the drying medium. However, the above mentioned
treatment of the drying medium is often insufficient because it does not completely
remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including odors and fine submicron
particles from the gas stream to the levels presently required. New stringent air
pollution and odor control regulations require that PM and VOCs be reduced below
the levels normally achieved by the dry PM removal devices and wet scrubbers,
especially with respect to malodorous organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, sulfur
oxides, etc. As a result, the drying medium needs to be treated either by
"chemical" scrubbers which should be designed to oxidize malodorous compounds
or by high temperature "afterburners"to thermally destroy malodorous compounds
and burn fine dust. In order to comply with stringent VOC removal requirements,
the open cycle HDS should be equipped with an afterburner.
In this case, no drying air is released into the atmosphere without
complete treatment, including efficient PM removal, water vapor condensing,
wet scrubbing and high temperature thermal treatment.
Open cycle HDS (also called once-through air flow) are relatively simple,
however they have the following disadvantages:
310 Girovich


- R.T.O.


- Mi%%

.,15% m





Thermal Treatment 311

high volume of drymg medium increases capital and operational costs

additional energy required by afterburners
heat loss in exhaust
potential for fire in the dryer due to direct contact of hot combustion products
with dry biosolids

Open cycle HDS, also known in the USA as an ESP process since the 1970s, are
now marketed by Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems, Inc. (WCWS). The ESP
process utilizes either "chemical" scrubbers or afterburners and it is protected by a
number of USA patents [8], [9]. Afterburners with heat recovery, called RTO or
Regenerative Thermal Oxidizers, which reduce energy consumption sigruiicantly, are
employed by the modem ESP process. A principal flow diagram for a direct open
cycle HDS based on the ESP technology with the RTO and triple pass dryer is shown
in Figure 6-1 1. Similar open cycle HDS without the afterburner @TO) is used in
production of Milorganite by the City of Milwaukee. Currently, there are eight (8)
operational open cycle HDS in the USA (1 995).
In order to reduce disadvantages of the open cycle HDS, the drylng air
recirculation is used. The drymg air recirculation can be accomplishedby:
Semi-closed cvcle: Partial recycle of drying air with direct heating, i.e.
recirculating part of the drymg air flow after condensingwater vapor.
Closed cvcle: Recycle of drymg air with indirect heating and separating drymg
air fiom the heating medium.
Figures 6-lob and Figure 6-1Oc depict these two arrangements. Both methods
increase energy efficiency and reduce amount of air emissions although to Werent
The semi-closed HDS using partial recycle of drymg air with direct heating
burns fossil fuel in a furnace (Figure 6-10.b). Combustion products diluted by
ambient air or by air vented fiom other parts of the HDS are ducted directly into the
dryer similarlyto the open cycle HDS. The dqmg air exiting the dryer is treated in the
air-solidsseparation devices (typically cyclonehaghousecombination)to remove PM
and then the drymg air is cooled in a condenser to remove water vapor. After the
coladenserthe nonmdensable portion of drying medium (air with some moisture) is
divided into two gas streams: 1) 15%-25% of the total flow is released into the
atmosphere without further treatment, and 2) 75%-85% of the flow is recycled back
to the furnace.
The recycled portion of the drying air serves as a dilution air and its particulate
and gaseous pollutants (malodorousorganics, dust, etc.) are thermally destroyed by
high temperatureof the furnace. Thus the heat generator (furnace) is used also as an
"afterburner." However, certain portion (up to 25%) of dqmg air is not thermally
treated in the furnace.
Advantages of the semi-closed system are: 1) higher energy efficiency as
compared with the open cycle system with the afterburner, 2) si@cant reduction
Thermal Treatment 313

of stack gas volume, 3) reduction of oxygen content in the drying air which reduces
potential for fires (but does not totally eliminate them).
Disadvantages are: 1) relatively low PM removal efficiency, especially for
fine particles below 10 microns (PM,,); 2) some gaseous pollutants including
malodorous organics and fme PM escape thermal treatment and are released into
the atmosphere.
The semi-closed HDS is marketed in the USA by Andritz Co. and some
others. Currently (1995), there are two semi-closed system under construction in
the USA (Figure 6- 12).
Further improvements in the drying air handling and treatment are provided
by the closed cycle HDS (Figure 6-10 c).
In closed cvcle HDS fuel is also burned in the furnace but the combustion
products heat the drying air indirectly via a heat exchanger so the combustion
products and drying air are separated and as a result, the combustion products do
not come in contact with biosolids and are not contaminated.
The drying air indirectly heated in the heat exchanger is ducted into the dryer.
After exiting the dryer, the drying air is treated in an air-solids separator (typically
cyclones and a baghouse) with high PM removal efficiency, including PM,,
removal. After the PM removal, the drying air is divided into two gas streams: 1)
15%-25% of the total flow is constantly drained to a condenser and then, after
cooling and substantially removing water vapor it is preheated and recycled back
to the furnace; and 2) 75%85% of the drying air flow is recycled back to the
drying also after being reheated in the heat exchanger. Air vented from certain
process equipment (conveyors, screens, etc.) is cleaned in a separate baghouse to
remove PM and ducted to the furnace for thermal treatment. No drying air is
released into the atmosphere without complete treatment, including efficient
PM removal, water vapor condensing, wet scrubbing and high temperature thermal
Advantages of the closed cycle HDS are: 1) increased energy efficiency as
compared with other direct HDS, 2) separation of combustion products from
biosolids and drying air and reduction of oxygen content in the drying air, which
considerably reduces fire potential, 3) significant improvement in air emission and
odor control, 4) decrease in the stack gas volume released to the atmosphere as
compared with other direct HDS.
Disadvantages are: 1) more complicated equipment and controls with the
increased cost as compared with other direct HDS, 2) still uses more air than
indirect HDS.
The closed cycle HDS are marketed in the USA by Wheelabrator Clean Water
Systems Inc. under a license agreement with Swiss Combi, Inc. (Switzerland). The
process is protected by the US patent [ 101. Currently (1995), there is one closed
cycle HDS under construction in the USA; over a dozen closed cycle installations
are operational in Europe and Canada.



316 Girovich

2. Indirect HDS

The indirect HDS use very little air and only to facilitate removal of water vapor
from the dryer. The air used in the indirect HDS is not the heating medium. It is
called "sweep" air and it plays insignificant role in the overall energy balance.
Typically the %weep'' air comprises from 10% to 30% (by volume) of the total
indirect dryer exhaust with the remainder being water vapor with small amounts
of PM and gaseous pollutants including malodorous compounds.
As an example, the amount of sweep air required for an indirect drying with
evaporation capacity of 4.0 metric tonhour is only 3 0 4 0 cubic meterdmin (1200
-1500 cubic feet/min approximately), while the amount of drying air required for
the same size direct rotary drum dryer is in the 700 -900 cubic meter/min. range.
As a result, handling and treatment of the sweep air is significantly less expensive
than in the direct HDS.
However, even this small amount of the "sweep" air unless properly treated
can cause odor problems. Similarly to the direct HDS the sweep air handling and
treatment can be accomplished in open and closed cycles. In the closed cycle
arrangement, which is used by almost all indirect HDS, the dryer exhaust is first
cooled to condense water vapor and then scrubbed to remove PM and gaseous
pollutants. A relatively clean noncondensibleportion (mainly air with some VOC,
submicron PM,,, organic malodorous compounds, etc.) is treated typically by a
condenser and wet venturi-scrubber and then it is ducted to the high temperature
zone of the HDS furnace (or boiler) for thermal destruction and deodoration
(Figure 6-14 and 6-15). The furnace serves as a built-in afterburner. No dryer
exhaust is released into the atmosphere without complete treatment, including
efficientPM removal, water vapor condensing,wet scrubbing and high temperature
thermal treatment.
Advantages of the indirect closed cycle HDS are: 1) high energy efficiency
due to heat recovery as compared with direct HDS; 2) separation of heating
medium (steam, thermal oil) from biosolids and reduction of oxygen content in the
dryer exhaust, which considerably reduces fire/explosion risks; 3) significant
improvement in air emission and odor control; 4) substantial decrease in the stack
gas volume released to the atmosphere as compared with direct HDS.
Disadvantages are: 1) higher cost of indirect dryer, and 2) indirect HDS with
horizontal en-masse dryer produce low quality product (inconsistency of particle
size, low durability, etc.)
The indirect HDS based on horizontal en masse (Figure 6-1 5) dryer typically
require additional mechanical pelletizing and classification equipment to produce
an acceptable pelletized product (fertilizer).
The indirect HDS with multitray PelletechB dryer are marketed in the USA
by the Bio Gro Division of WCWS under a license agreement with Seghers
Engineering Co. (Belgium).
(Courtesy of Stord, i n c . )
) D R m R E&UST,

Thermal Treatment 319

The process is protected by the U.S. patent [ll]. Currently (1995), there are three
operational systems of this type in the USA (City of Baltimore, Figure 6-14).
The multitray indirect dryer can be used in conjunction with an incinerator in a
dual purpose heat drymg-incineration system to produce pellets for beneficial use
andor incinerate biosolids (Figure 6- 16). Such an HDS will have the advantage of
producing a beneficial use product (pellets) in Bccordance with seasonal market
demand and incinerating biosolids when demand is down while maintaining full
processing capacity. Currently, there is no dual use HDS in the USA, one similar
system operates in Belgium [141.

C. Environmental Control and Regulatory Issues

Early biosolids HDS operatedin the 1970s in Europe and the USA had only primitive
partidate matter (PM) control devices such as mechanical cyclones with low
pressure drop (6 - 8" WC). With gradual introduction of en~onmentalregulations
throughout the industrialized nations of Europe and the USA, the biosolids HDS
enviramnental control has been evolving toward the use of more efficient and costlier
air anissianand odor control technologies to comply with ever tightening regulations.
New limitshave been established for particulate and gaseous pollutants including total
suspended partidate (TSP), PM,, (particulate matter smaller than 10 ym), SO,, NO,,
CO, chlorides, total hydrocarbons(THC), volatile organic compounds (VOC), toxic
and hazardous air pollutants (TAP, HAP)and metals (lead, mercury, beryllium).
The U.S. EPA has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards
(NAAQS) for six "criteria pollutants" (SO,, NO , PM, CO, ozone and lead). Until
early 1990, most air quality regulations focused on control of the criteria pollutants.
The 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) requires also that major VOC sources in
w t areas be quantiiied and reduced. Nonattainment areas are geographic
regions where ambient air concentration of one or more of the criteria pollutants
exceeds the established limit. The US.EPA is also scheduled to propose new
standards for control of HAP from the POTW in late 1994. Subpart E of the 503
Regulations specifically regulates the operation and emissions fiom the biosolids
The regulatory air permitting process for a HDS can be complex especially in
the states that regulate toxic (hazardous) air pollutants as well as criteria pollutants.
It is almost certain that these pollutants as well as odors will be of public concern
during the HDS permitting. Public relations and possible opposition may be in fact
time-consumingand difficult process.
In addition to air quality approval the HDS will be required to obtain other
permits and approvals in order to construct and operate the system. These will
include biosolids utilization permits, water and sewerage construction permits,


Thermal Treatment 321

requirements (stormwater, soil and erosion control management, wetlands impact,

impacts in critical areas, etc.), approvals to market and distribute the biosolids
derived product, etc. Usually air quality permits are the most difficult and time
consuming to obtain.

1. Criteria Pollutants

Under federal regulations, new sources must provide estimates of emissions of

criteria pollutants. Allowable emission rates of each of the criteria pollutants and
required control technologies depend somewhat on air quality conditions in the
particular area where the new source is to be located. In general, under federal
regulations, emissions from sources in areas that have been determined to have
relatively good air quality ("attainment areas") are regulated under Prevention of
Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations. Sources in areas with relatively poor
air quality (nonattainment areas) are regulated under nonattainment review
regulations. The HDS usually will not be subject to Prevention of Significant
Deterioration (PSD) regulations, since it is not large enough to be considered to be
a "major stationary source." A HDS itself would have to emit more than 250 tons
per year of any regulated pollutant to be considered a major source for PSD
However, some states have developed specific regulations in nonattainment
areas such as, for example, VOC and NOx for the ozone nonattainment areas.
In Maryland, for example, these regulations, known as the New Source
Impacting a Nonattainment Area (NSMA) regulations, apply to new sources or
modifications to existing sources that emit 50 tons per year, 1,000 pounds per day,
or 100 pounds per hour of VOCs, whichever is most restrictive.
Direct and indirect HDS seem likely to be able to meet these limitations
unless they are of very high capacity.
There has been a revision in federal particulate matter regulations that is of
interest in terms of the HDS permitting. In 1987, the US EPA changed its ambient
standard for particulate matter from a limit on total suspended particulate matter
(TSP) to a limit on particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM,,). The
standard was revised to account for the fact that smaller particles pose more of a
public health threat than larger particles because they are inhalable. Most states are
in the process of redefining attainment and nonattainment areas for PM,,.

2 . Toxic (Hazardous) Air Pollutants (TAPSand HAPS)

In many states now a HDS will also be subject to review of TAP (HAP) emissions.
For example, under Maryland TAP regulations, the HDS construction
permitting will require that the applicant for a new source:
- quantify TAP emissions from the proposed project,
322 Girovich

- demonstrate use of Best Available Control Technology for Toxics (T-BACT),

- perform an Ambient Impact Analysis for the TAP emissions.
The Maryland TAP regulations exempt "fuel burning equipment" which is
defmed as "any boiler or furnace which has the primary function of producing hot
air, hot water, or steam through indirect heat transfer from the burning of fuel."
One interpretation of these regulations would exempt an indirect HDS from
requirements of TAPS. However, this furnace may also serve as an afterburner.
As such, it is the sole emission point from the system. It is likely, therefore, that
the indirect HDS furnace may be subject to the TAP regulations. The direct HDS
will be subject to the TAP regulations in Maryland in any case.
The TAP regulations cover emissions of any substance emitted to the
atmosphere not already regulated under federal criteria pollutant or National
Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) regulations. This
means essentially,that any substance emitted by the sources will be regulated under
the TAP program. Metals and organics emitted from the HDS will be subject to
TAP review.
The second requirement of the TAP regulations in Maryland compels a new
source to demonstrate that it will employ the most stringent emissions control
technology available for toxic pollutant emissions, referred to as T-BACT. The T-
BACT demonstrationmust be made for each regulated TAP emitted by the source.
Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) uses a "top down'' approach for
reviewing various control technologies proposed by a new source. This means that
a source must first consider installing the most stringent control in use by any other
similar type of source, unless it can be shown that that particular control is not
feasible in terms of economics or energy use. The source must then use the second
most stringent control, unless it too is deemed to be too expensive, and so on until
a control strategy is found. T-BACT reviews are performed by MDE on a case-by-
case basis. New sources must employ T-BACT, according to the regulations,
regardless of whether the source demonstrates that its emissions are within
allowable levels.
In order to fulfill the third requirement of the TAP regulations, the Ambient
Impact Analysis, the source must successfully demonstrate to MDE that TAP
emissions will not unreasonably endanger the public health. This analysis can be
performed in a number of ways, but generally involves estimating TAP emissions,
modeling how emissions will affect ambient concentrations of that pollutant, and
comparing ambient concentrationswith toxicological screening levels to assess the
public health impact. The modeling can be accomplishedby several methods, from
simple, conservative (overestimating)hand calculator techniques to more complex
computer air quality dispersion modeling. The analysis must review impacts to the
public of emissions of both carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic substances. If
emissions of any TAP do not pass this initial screening, the source must perform
Thermal Treatment 323

more complex modeling and risk assessment techniques to prove that although
emission levels produce impact above screening levels, the projected off-site
ambient concentrations will not unreasonably endanger the public health.
Pollutants regulated under the federal NESHAPs program (or pollutants for
which the EPA is proposing to regulate under the NESHAPs program) are exempt
from the T-BACT and Ambient Impact Analysis portions of the TAP regulations.
EPA has currently promulgated NESHAPs governing emissions of eight pollutants
from a specific set of sources. One NESHAP governs mercury emissions from
facilities that incinerate or dry wastewater treatment plant solids (40 CFR 61SO).
A biosolids dryer is defined as "a device used to reduce the moisture content of
sludge by heating to temperatures above 65°C (- 150°F) directly with combustion
gases" (40 CFR 61.50(m)). Thus the EPA recognizes the direct drying technology
as a potential source of hazardous mercury emissions and would regulate it under
NESHAPs. The indirect drying system, on the other hand, does not appear to be
covered by NESHAPs, and would be regulated under the Maryland TAP program
NESHAPs limit mercury emissions from HDS to 3,200 grams of mercury per
24 hours (or approximately 7 pounds per 24 hours, or 1,820 lbs/yr (assuming
operations at 5 daydweek, 52 weekslyear)). The NESHAPs also require applicable
sources to test mercury emissions within 90 days of start of operations. By
contrast, allowable mercury emissions under TAPS would be a function of facility
design and may be less than or greater than the NESHAPs limit.

3. Odor Emissions

Under air quality regulations practiced by many states, sources are prohibited from
discharging odors "beyond the property line in such a manner than a nuisance or
air pollutant is created." There are no quantitative limits placed on odor emissions
as there are on other air emissions; however, sources are, by regulation, prohibited
from generating any emissions that can be detected outside the property boundary.
In general, regulators are reluctant to specify odor concentrations or BACT
for odor control. These parameters will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis taking
into consideration the economics and effectiveness of the control technologies.
Some states (Virginia, Pennsylvania) require afterburner technology on the
biosolids HDS if biosolids have a high VOC content.
Indirect and closed cycle direct HDS have a lower overall potential for
emitting pollutants, primarily because their air flows are considerably lower than
that of direct open cycle HDS. The reduced air flow allows the incorporation of
higher performance emission controls and BACT into the HDS at a low cost.
Even with the same control efficiencies, pollutant loadings from the open
cycle direct HDS would be still higher due to the order of magnitude difference in
the gas volume discharged.
324 Girovich

Despite the differences in emission rates and pollution control efficiencies,

practically all modern HDS could obtain permits and approvals in accordance with
existing regulations. However, should air emission regulations tighten, the indirect
HDS would have less problems to comply.

4. Air Pollution and Odor Control Equipment

a. Particulate Matter Removal

For the PM removal, modern HDS use mechanical cyclones, fabric filters, wet
venturi-scrubbers and afterburners. In the direct open cycle HDS (Figure 6-1 1)
mechanical cyclones are used to remove biosolids pellets and coarse PM from the
dryer's exhaust. Mechanical cyclones are generally inefficient for the removal of
PM,,. The PMloremoval is largely accomplished by a wet venturi followed by an
impingement or packed bed scrubber and the afterburner. The venturi
agglomerates fine PM which enhances PM removal in the downstream wet
The wet scrubber also serves as a condenser and a gaseous pollutant removing
device. Venturi-wet scrubber is well suited as a condenser and as a coarse PM
removing device but it is not effective for removal of water insoluble organic and
inorganic species and submicron PM. Venturi-wet scrubber removal efficiency
(RE) for hydrocarbons is generally 5% to 30% only and for the submicron PM is
usually less than 60% unless high pressure drop venturi is employed.
In the closed cycle HDS with indirect heating (Figure 6-13), a combination
cyclone-fabric filter has been used to effectively remove coarse and fine PM. Use
of fabric filters should be carefully analyzed to avoid water condensation and
blinding of the filter bags.
In the indirect HDS, the PM removal is effectively accomplished by a wet
venturi-scrubber followed by a built-in afterburner due to small air flow and ability
to use high pressure drop (Figure 6-14). Usage of a fabric filter in this case is not
recommended because of the small air flow and high humidity of the gas.

b. Gaseous Pollutants and Odor Removal

The modem HDS with well designed furnaces fired on natural gas do not emit
carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides and chlorides (as HCI) above limits established for
this gaseous criteria pollutants and no control devices are usually employed to
remove them.
A totally different situation is observed with respect to total hydrocarbons,
ammonia, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfide, organic sulfides, amines, mercaptans
and some other volatile organic compounds.
Thermal Treatment 325

Regulations now establish strict stack limits for total hydrocarbons (THC) or
VOC and nitrogen oxides. The BACT for the THC (VOC), organic sulfides,
mercaptans, etc. removal is afterburning or thermal oxidation. However, some
HDS especially at the low capacity end may still use "chemical scrubber" to
remove NH,, H,S, THC (VOC), mercaptans and other organic, often malodorous
compounds. In this case, removal of ammonia and H,S is typically accomplished
by wet scrubbers using acid (H,SO,) or caustic (NaOH) respectively. Removal of
organic species is achieved by wet scrubbers using strong chemical oxidizers such
as sodium hypochloride (NaOC1) and hydrogen peroxide. Sufficient gas residence
time and the amount of scrubbing medium and chemical oxidizing agents should
be incorporated into the chemical scrubber design to ensure that organic species
will be oxidized and deodorized. Removal efficiencies of the chemical scrubbers
vary significantly for different organic species.
Separate or built-in afterburners (RTO) operating at 700-800°C with 0.5-2
seconds of retention time provide 90-95% removal efficiency for all organic
species. (Figures 6-1 1,6-12,6-13 and 6-14) Operating the afterburners at higher
temperature is not recommended due to increase in NOx emission.
Potential source of NOx emission is the release of gaseous ammonia from
biosolids with an elevated pH during drying and subsequent partial conversion of
ammonia into NOx in the afterburners at high temperatures. To reduce or
eliminate this phenomenon, ammonia must be substantially removed from the gas
stream in the wet scrubber prior to its entering the afterburner. The wet scrubber
should be designed to perform as an ammonia and PM removal device with
sufficient liquid to gas ratio and pressure drop and injection of sulfuric acid to
convert ammonia into ammonia sulfate salt which is removed with the scrubber

D. Economics of Heat Drying

Selection of a heat drying process should be based on thorough technical,

environmental and economic evaluation. Some evaluation criteria such as capital,
operational and maintenance costs, utilities, equipment, etc. are relatively easy to
quantify. Others such as future changes in biosolids quantity and quality and
environmental laws, market trends, etc. are dificult or impossible to attach a dollar
To initiate a meaningful evaluation process, the following major parameters
should be analyzed and incorporated in the design concept: 1) required throughput
in dry tonnage and water evaporation capacity; 2) mode of operation; 3) biosolids
quality (dryness, chemical composition, compliance with the established limits of
pollutants, etc.); 4) product storage capacity; 5) methods of product
disposaUmarketing;6) applicable environmental regulations concerning particulate,
gaseous and liquid emissions and odor control; 7) site specific conditions such as
326 Girovich

availability and cost of all utilities, including process water, wastewater discharge,
fuel, electricity, etc.; traffic patterns and access roads, proximity of residential
areas, zoning, etc.; and 8) public acceptance or opposition to the project.

1. Operating and Maintenance Cost

Operating and maintenance (0 & M) costs of an HDS operation includes the

following major components:

a. Labor

Modem, well-designed HDS are automated and usually run 3 shifts, 24 hours a
day, 6-7 days a week. Typically, a single dryer HDS employs two operators per
shift. Supervisory, maintenance and clerical personnel depend on the overall
facility design, mode of operation, etc.

Fuel (usually natural gas) comprises the major 0 & M expense (between 20% and
25%). Natural gas cost varies from $3.0 to $4.5 per million BTU. If the overall
STR for HDS is known (or better, guaranteed by the system's supplier), the fuel
cost per hour of operation can be calculated as follows:

C, = STR E k . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (6-11)

To calculate the fuel cost per dry ton of biosolids processed, the following formula
is applied:

C, = fuel cost, $ k r
C, = fuel cost, $/dry weight unit
STR = specific thermal rate, kcalkg (BTUAb) of evaporated water
E = system's evaporation capacity, kg/hr (lbhr) of evaporated water
k = cost of fuel, $ per unit of energy
di, do= biosolids and product dryness respectively
Thermal Treatment 327

For example, using formula (6-12) for a natural gas fired HDS with the STR
= 1,500 BTU/lb of evaporated water; incoming biosolids dryness of 22% TS and
product dryness of 92% TS; k = $4.5 per million BTU (2,000 lbs = 1.O dry ton):

C, = 1,500 x 2,000 (1/.22 - 1/.92) x $4.5 x lo6 = $46.7 per dry ton

The fuel cost (per unit of dry weight) depends greatly on the incoming
biosolids dryness (Figure 6-8 and Figure 6- 18) so that at the dryness of 30% TS the
fuel cost drops to $30.3 per dry ton.

c. Electricity

A single train HDS with evaporation capacities between 1.O and 4.0 metric ton per
hour requires electrical power in the 200 - 300 kw range depending upon the HDS
type. Electricity consumption per dry ton will depend on the HDS capacity and its
utilization, mode of operation, etc.
Typically, 180 - 320 kilowatt-hours per dry ton of biosolids processed is
required, or $12.6 - $22.5 per dry ton approximately (at $0.07/kwh).

d. Reuair. Maintenance and Maintenance Reserve

Expenses associated with equipment repair, replacement, maintenance and up-keep

are site specific and usually between 2.0 and 2.5% of the HDS capital cost (as

e. Water and Wastewater

The HDS require substantial amount of water for purposes of exhaust gas cooling,
condensing, scrubbing, washing, etc. Potable water is also required for personnel.


These include overhead expenses such as supervision, insurance, phone, security,

clerical, etc.

g. ;
The biosolids fertilizer produced by a HDS can be sold to various consumers.
Expenses associated with this activity may include transportation, promotion and
marketing, etc. Revenue from the biosolids fertilizer sales help to reduce the cost
of production.
328 Girovich

DL 360
8 270
a 180

. .

0 90
8m 45
5,000( 15) 10,000(30) 20,000( 60)


Thermal Treatment 329

Figure 6-17 illustrates 0 & M cost component's dependence on the HDS

production capacity (economy of scale).
Profit, cost of land, insurance, taxes and similar project specific expenses are
excluded. No fertilizer sale revenue are included. Typically the biosolids
production cost (or tipping fee) components are as follows:

Labor - 15 -25%
Fuel 20 - 30%
Electricity - 10%
Maintenance and repair - 15 - 25%
Overhead and administrative expenses - 15 - 25%
Miscellaneous - 5%

2. Method to Improve the HDS Performance

In order to improve performance, increase productivity and reduce operational cost

of the HDS, both technical and nontechnical methods can be employed.
Increase drvness of the feed. Higher dryness dramatically improves
throughput and decreases fuel consumption (per dry ton). For example, increasing
the incoming biosolids dryness from 18% TS to 30% TS reduces the cost of energy
(per dry ton) by almost two times and increases dry throughput accordingly.
Increase the AT, Use higher inlet and lower outlet temperatures for drying air
(direct dryers) and heating medium (indirect dryers). Watch for fire danger at the
inlet and water condensation at the outlet of the dryers with high inlet and low
outlet temperatures.
Recvcle drvinv air. Recycle improves thermal efficiency, decreases potential
for fire and reduces environmental impact.
Automate Furnace Operation bv usinv reliable and accurate firine controls.
Recover heat enerev by combustion air preheating, biosolids preheating, air
recirculation, etc.
Among nontechnical methods the following are beneficial:
Combine dewatering and heat drvinp in one plant. Such combination always
saves labor and simplifies biosolids handling.
Buv natural eas on a mot market instead buying from a utility. Often better
gas prices can be enjoyed in this case. If you buy from the utility, consider so-
called "intermptable" service which is less expensive. However, in this case either
an alternative fuel system should be installed or the HDS gas supply might be cut
during certain periods of the year.
Install high efficiencv furnaces (boilers) and heat exchangers.
Improve aualitv of Delletized fertilizel; (eliminate odor and dust; improve
nutrient content, etc.)
330 Girovich

Establish aggressive marketin? program backed up by quality control to

maximize your revenue from the fertilizer sale.
Use "economv of scale," i.e., the higher the HDS capacity the better is its
economics (Figure 6-17).


A. Milwaukee Biosolids Drying and Pelletizing Plant

For nearly 70 years, biosolids generated at the City of Milwaukee's Jones Island
WWTP were dewatered and dried in direct rotary drum dryers to produce
Milorganite, a popular biosolids fertilizer product with 6% nitrogen, 1%
phosphorus and 4% iron. In 1994 the facility was retrofitted to dewater, dry and
pelletize 200 tons (182,000 kg) of biosolids per day [ 131.
Liquid biosolids from different sources are blended to maintain consistent
composition and conditioned by ferric chloride to maintain a guaranteed 4% iron
and to facilitate coagulation; by cationic polymer to assist in flocculation, and by
hydrogen peroxide to control odor.
Twenty-four (24) two meter wide belt filter presses (BFP) dewater biosolids
to 16-1 8% TS. Each BFP is capable of dewatering up to 10 tons (9,000 kg) per
day of liquid biosolids ranging from 4% to 5% TS.
The drying and pelletizing plant uses an open cycle HDS and employs twelve
8 ft. by 50 ft. direct rotary drum dryers, each with evaporation capacity of 9,000
Ibs. (4,100 kg) per hour. Assuming 16% TS in the biosolids feed, it amounts to a
total production capacity of a minimum 10.5 dry t o n s h .
Heat sources for the drying include waste heat from the turbine exhaust and
natural gas firing. Turbine exhaust at 900°F (482°C) from two natural gas fired
15 MW turbines which provide electrical power for the entire WWTP is conveyed
to the dryers. The turbine exhaust is augmented by firing natural gas.
The dryer's exhaust is first cleaned in cyclones to remove coarse PM from the
gas stream and then further treated by an impingement quench chamber and a wet
electrostatic precipitator (WESP) prior to its release to the atmosphere via 350 ft
(107 m) stack.
The WESPs are permitted to release less than 0.005 grainshcf of particulate
The greater Milwaukee area is a nonattainment area for sulhr dioxide under
the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Consequently,the air permit contains
stringent pollutant emission limitations. The regulated pollutants include PM,
sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and volatile organic
compounds, cadmium, lead and mercury. Testing is required for these pollutants
plus nickel, chromium, chloride as HCI, and opacity.
Thermal Treatment 331

Dried product handling system separates oversized, fine and on-spec dried
products. The oversized material is reduced in size and recycled as required. Dry
fine biosolids are separated, recycled and mixed with wet biosolids feed in the
The on-spec pellets are cooled to 32°C (90°F) to prevent heat generation
during storage and fire potential. After cooling, Milorganite is pneumatically
transported to and stored for long periods (up to three months or 18,000 tons) in 14
silos. Due to seasonal changes in nitrogen content, Milorganite with substandard
nitrogen level is stored separately for later blending with high nitrogen content
product to maintain the guaranteed 6% nitrogen.
Due to relatively large generation of fines (over 40 tons per day), a special
fine material processing system is included. The fines are mixed with hot water
and extruded to form pellets. The pellets are cooled by air, reduced in size and
returned to the dried product handling system. Fine material collected from the
cyclones (so-called chaff) is treated by an outside contractor which converts it into
a product similar to standard Milorganite.

B. New York City Biosolids Fertilizer Facility

The world's largest direct heat drying and pelletizing facility was put into operation
in 1993 in the City of New York (Bronx). The facility uses an open cycle direct
HDS (ESP process) (Figure 6-1 1) with regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO). The
New York facility is capable of processing up to 270 dry metric tons a day (300
dtd) and it employs six (6) independenttriple pass rotary dryer process trains. The
facility, privatized by Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems Inc., processes dewatered
biosolids from New York City's dewatering plants (Figure 6-18, photo courtesy of
Trucks dump dewatered biosolids (DWB) into large holding pits in an
enclosed tipping area. A series of screw conveyors located at the bottom of the pits
move the DWB to conveyor belts. The belts move the DWB into hoppers which
feed the material into mixers at a controlled rate. In the mixers, the DWB are
mixed with recycled dry product to produce a wet granular feed for the triple pass
rotary dryers. The DWB are dried fiom approximately25 - 30% TS to 95% TS in
the rotary dryer. Upon leaving the dryer, dry pellets are separated by size.
Oversized pellets are reduced to fines before being mixed with the undersized
pellets in a recycle bin. The fine pellets are fed into the pin mixer to begin the
process again.
"On spec", market size pellets ( 1 4 mm) are pneumatically conveyed after
cooling to 30°C to storage silos before being loaded into closed-hopper rail cars
and shipped for beneficial reuse. The entire process is controlled by computers in
a centrally located control room.
Thermal Treatment 333

Drying air is treated by dry cyclones, recirculating wet venturi-scrubbers with

sulfuric acid injection designed to remove PM and ammonia and the RTOs
(afterburners). The RTO operates at approximately 1560°F (with 95% thermal
energy recovery) which destroys organic compounds present in the drying air prior
to its discharge to the atmosphere. The RTO destruction and removal efficiency
with respect to the VOCs is no less than 97%.
The facility was constructed at the total cost of approximately $120 million
(1992). The facility achieved high level of energy efficiency (less than 1500
BTU/pound of water evaporated including the RTO) and very low stack
emission levels in full compliance with stringent environmental permits. The
facility is permitted to emit no more than 0.008 grains of PM per dry standard cubic
feet (corrected to 1% COJ; no more than 16 ppm of NO,.. 8.8 ppm of CO; 12 ppm
of total non-methane hydrocarbons (TNMHC).
The biosolids pellet fertilizer is marketed in Florida and some other states.

C. Baltimore City Biosolids Fertilizer Facility

The world's first and the largest indirect heat drying and pelletizing facility was put
into operation in 1994 in the City of Baltimore, Maryland. The facility is located
on a 1.5 acre site at the 466 acre Back River WWTP. The 180 mgd plant serves 1.3
million people living in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The facility uses
a closed-cycle indirect HDS (Figure 6- 14) based on the Bio Gro-Seghers patented
process [ 113. The process was developedjointly by Seghers Engineering Company
(Belgium) and the Bio Gro Division of Wheelabrator Clean Water Systems Inc.
The facility is designed to process 55 dtd (230 wtd) with 100% redundancy (total
capacity 110 dtd). The facility normally receives liquid biosolids and its three
centrifuges dewater them from 2 4 % TS up to 26% TS. The dewatered biosolids
are conveyed to the HDS. Biosolids dewatered by the City's centrifuges can also
be received and processed. The facility is privatized by WCWS. The City pays
approximately $96 per wet ton of biosolids processed which includes cost of
Three (3) independent Bio Gro-PelletechO multitray dryer process trains are
used to simultaneously dry and pelletize the biosolids (Figure 6-19, photo courtesy
of WCWS). Each dryer (Fig. 6-6) is capable of evaporating not less than 4.0 metric
tons of water per hour (35 dry tons per day approximately). The PelletechO dryer
uses thermal oil heated to 260°C (500°F) in the natural gas fwed thermal oil heater.
Thermal oil (heating medium) circulates through the dryer hollow trays. A small
amount of sweep air is used in the dryer. The dryer's exhaust is first cooled by
liquid biosolids to recover energy and to improve the dewaterability (Figure 6-14).
The liquid biosolids are preheated up to 140°F (60°C) which improves the overall
system thermal efficiency by approximately 3 4 % .
Thermal Treatment 335

Improvement in dewaterability due to the liquid biosolids preheating is

manifested in higher solids concentration of the centrifuged biosolids. According
to tests, for every 10°F increase in temperature, the solids content increases by
approximately 0.1% at the same polymer dosage.
The dryer's exhaust is further cooled by the process water (plant effluent) and
treated in a condensor and a venturi-wet scrubber to remove water vapor, PM and
gaseous pollutants.
Cleaned non-condensible gas (air) still containing some VOCs including
malodorous compounds is ducted to an indirect preheater and into a high
temperature zone of the thermal oil heater for thermal destruction and
deodorization. The heater serves as an afterburner. The condensate (along with
centrate from the centrifuges) is sent back to the host WWTP.
The pelletized product exiting the dryer is conveyed to the dry product
preparation and handling system where it is screened and separated into oversized,
fine and commercial grade size fractions. The oversized fraction is then reduced
in size and recycled back to the mixer along with the fine fi-action. The commercial
grade size fraction (usually between 1 and 3 mm) is indirectly cooled by water to
approximately 30°C (90°F) and stored in the product silos for marketing and
distribution. A liquid nitrogen system is used to prevent overheating in the product
All system components such as dryers, screens, crushers, conveyors, etc. are
enclosed and operate at slightly negative pressure to eliminate odor and dust
escape. A microprocessor-basedcontrol system automates and monitors the entire
The facility total cost, including dewatering, was approximately $30 million
(1992). The facility has achieved high energy efficiency and very low stack
emissions. The facility is permitted to emit no more than 0.03 gr/dscf.


In addition to drying and incineration, several other heat treatment processes are
used in the biosolids management. Some of them are employed to thermally
condition liquid biosolids prior to dewatering [ Z h p r o process, Envirotech
(formerly Porteous) process, Nichols (formerly Dorr Oliver Farrer System), Zurn,
etc.)]. Multi-effect evaporation process (Carver-Greenfield System) is also
employed as biosolids thermal processing prior to dewatering. Numerous
innovative thermal processes have been developed in the last decade, the majority
of which have not yet been proven in a full-scale municipal plant project (e.g.
gasification, oil from sludge (OFS) processes; bricks and tiles from sludge, etc.).
A description of some of these innovative processes is provided in [ 151.
336 Girovich

A. Carver-Greenfield (C-G) Process

The C-G process uses a solvent (oil) to disperse a wet material (e.g., liquid
biosolids) and evaporate water out of the suspended oiVsolids emulsion. The C-G
technology started in the mid 1940's and the frst commercial C-G plant was built
in Philadelphia to dry rendering plant waste. In 1964 a C-G plant was constructed
for the Hershey Corporation sludges. Numerous C-G plants are operational
worldwide treating food, dairy, pharmaceutical, oily and other sludges [12].
In 1984, the U.S. EPA evaluated the C-G process and declared it as
"innovative and alternative," thereby permitting municipalities to obtain federal
grant subsidies for C-G process plants under the Clean Water Act of 1977. As a
result, four municipalities were contracted to build C-G process plants in the U.S.:
the City of Los Angeles (Hyperios WWTP), the County Sanitation District of Los
Angeles, Mercer County Utility Authority (NJ) and Ocean County Utilities
Authority (NJ). All USA C-G biosolids processing facilities have rather troubled
The City of Los Angeles built and started up the first light solvent C-G plant
for municipal sewage sludge in 1987. Dried biosolids generated by the C-G
process are incinerated in the fluid bed furnace producing 11 MW of electricity.
However, the Los Angeles C-G plant experienced serious operating problems.
Following a number of changes to the C-G plant, the City of Los Angeles has
been operating one train at a time at a rate of about 50 dry tons per day [1995].
The City plans to make further improvements to the plant and to operate two trains
for a combined capacity of 160 dry tons per day some time in the future. Other
changes are also being implemented (e.g. installation of Stord indirect steam dryers
as a back-up).
The Ocean County Utilities Authority (OCUA) build their C-G plant in 1990
at the cost of approximately $23 million. This plant was designed at about the
same time as the other U.S. municipal plants, but differed from the others in two
important ways. First, a mechanical vapor recompression system was used instead
of a four-effect evaporation system. Second, the feed contained only 7 percent dry
solids, compared with 20% TS at the other plants. As a result, three times as much
water had to be evaporated (per dry ton of solids) compared with the other plants.
The OCUA operated the plant at up to 30 dry tons per day (design rate-50 dtd) and
sold the dried and mechanically pelletized biosolids in Florida. The plant
experienced severe downtime problems and cost of treatment was very high
(approximately $600/dt). Consequently, in the fall of 1992, the OCUA shut the
plant down.
The other two U.S. C-G plants, owned by the County of Los Angeles and
Mercer County, New Jersey, have been built but have not yet been started up
(1 994).
338 Girovich

The C-G process is a multiple-effect evaporation system that utilizes a

fluidizing oil to overcome the problems of pumpability and heat transfer, which
limit the efficiency and cost-effectivenessof other evaporation systems. The C-G
process uses multi-stage (multi-effect) evaporation.
The process starts by mixing biosolids slurry with a light carrier oil in a
fluidizing tank at a ratio of between five and ten parts oil to one part biosolids. It
is then fed to the fust stage of a multiple-effect evaporation system. Hot vapor
from the preceding evaporator, or effect, is used to drive off water from the sludge
in the following effect. The pressure inside the evaporators is reduced by a vacuum
system to allow vaporization to occur at a lower-than-normal temperature. The last
effect - where the final quantities of moisture must be removed - consumes
steam. Temperatures decrease from the last effect to the first while the vacuum is
increased by means of a condenser.
As the biosolids pass from one effect to the next, its viscosity increases,
making transport more difficult. The carrier oil prevents plugging that would result
from viscosity effects through the system.
After virtually all water is evaporated, a centrifuge is used to remove
approximately half of the oil from the solids-oil emulsion from the second (last)
effect. The resultant biosolids cake is then transported into a steam-heated deoiler
where most of the remaining oil is evaporated. Carrier oil retention in the solids
leaving the deoiler varies from 0.2 to 0.5 percent.
The C-G process is significantly more efficient thermally than conventional
drying systems because it combines the energy efficiency of multi-effect or
mechanical vapor recompression (MVR) evaporation with the use of a light
fluidizing carrier oil. Modem HDS typically have the energy demand (STR) in the
1,500-1,600 BTU range per pound of water evaporated. However, in a C-G
process with MVR, total STR can be reduced to less than 800 BTU per pound of
water evaporated (theoretically to 300-400 BTU).
All of the solvent is recovered and reused within the process. Extracted
compounds (oils and some fine biosolids) are recovered and burned separately to
produce steam.
Since the biosolids are raised to above 300°F for almost an hour, any
pathogens or other microorganisms present are destroyed. The product is Class A
biosolids with regard to pathogen reduction; it typically contains less than 2% of
water. However, the product is very dusty and as a result, it requires additional
mechanical pelletizing using extrusion to produce cylindrical particles which are
then separated into commercial, fine and oversized fractions. The fme fraction and
the oversized fraction after crumbling is recycled to the extrusion step.
Commercial grade pellets were sold in Florida.
After the C-G plant shut-down in 1992, the OCUA plans to construct a 50 dtd
heat drying-pelletizing system. The new plant will also include a dewatering
Thermal Treatment 339

B. Wet Oxidation (Zimpro Process)

Wet oxidation is an aqueous-phase oxidation process brought about when an

organic andor oxidizable inorganic-containing liquid is mixed with gaseous
oxygen (usually air) at temperatures of 150 to 325°C (300 to 617°F). Pressures of
2,000 to 20,500 kPa (300 to 3,000 psi) are maintained to promote reaction.
Wet oxidation was initially developed in the early 1960s for recovery of
pulping chemicals from waste liquids produced by the paper mills. In this
application, the upper range of temperature/pressure was used. For biosolids
conditioning, the lower range of temperatures (175 to 205 "C) has been used.
Wet oxidation is "combustion without fire" in a sense that most organic
compounds can be "burned" (decomposed) at the above temperatures/pressures.
Wet oxidation reaction is not as sensitive to pressure as it is to temperature.
Wet oxidation of biosolids is available from Zimpro, Inc. utilizing an above-
ground vertical column reactor. The Zimpro process is the most widely used wet
oxidation technology in the biosolids treatment mainly as a thermal conditioning
prior to mechanical dewatering (Figure 6-21). Typically, a 400 psig steam is
injected into the reactor where liquid biosolids are maintained at 300-350°F for a
period of 15 to 30 minutes. The reactor is kept at approximately 100 psig. The
heat exchangers are used to recover some of the heat exiting with the processed
biosolids. A by-product of thermal conditioning is strong odor which requires
subsequent treatment such as incineration.
Thermal conditioning by Zimpro process breaks down cell matter in the
sludge and generates significantly more dewaterable biosolids with no chemical
polymers added.
Biosolids treated by Zimpro process can be mechanically dewatered up to
4 0 4 0 % TS. They are a Class A product with respect to pathogen reduction
requirements. Zimpro conditioned biosolids also have an increased heating value
(10,000 - 15,000 BTU/lb of volatile solids) which makes them more suitable for
incineration. However, Zimpro systems operated in the USA have experienced
severe problems which led, in many instances, to the system's shutdown.
(e.g. Zimpro systems in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1990; Green Bay, Wisconsin,
1995; Troy, Ohio, 1993, etc.)
Some Zimpro systems are reasonably successful (e.g. Southerly Plant,
Cleveland, Ohio; Passaic Valley, New Jersey; Mississango, Ontario; Minneapolis,
Minnesota; etc.)
Major problems include complexity of the system, high cost of maintenance,
corrosion and erosion, low reliability, and the requirement for highly skilled
operating personnel.
Another variation of wet oxidation process is the aqueous phase oxidation
(APO) process marketed by VerTech Treatment Systems. The unique feature of
the VerTech technology is the processing of biosolids using high purity oxygen in
340 Girovich

a closed loop below-ground oxidation vessel (reactor) extending to a depth of 4,000

ft. (1,200 m) approximately which results in high pressure at the bottom of the
reactor without the need for high pressure pumps. In the mid-1980s a VerTech
APO demonstration facility with 25 dmtd capacity was operated in Longmount,
Colorado. The first commercial below-ground, 64 dmtd APO system was built in
the Netherlands.
Since its start-up in early 1993, the APO system experienced operational
problems and underwent a number of changes and improvements. The process had
not reached its design potential at the time this book was written.

\z t'




Thermal Treatment 341


1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Standards for the Use or Disposal of

Sewage Sludge. 40 CFRPart 503.February 19,1993.
2. Grace, N., Gonzales, A. Biosolids Marketing--End Users Constraints,
Florida Water Resources Journal, April 1994.
3. Mujumdar, A.S. Handbook of Industrial Drying. Marcel Dekker, Inc. New
York. 1987.
4. Cook, E.M. and DuMont, M.D. Process Drying Practice. McGraw Hill, Znc.
5. Masters, K. Spray Drying Handbook. John Wiley & Sons. New York. 1979.
6. Keey, R.B. Introduction to Industrial Drying Operations. Pergamon Press,
7. Lackemacher, P, Low, B.J. Sludge Dehydration to Meet PFRP via Indirect
Heated, Disc Type Processor. Proceedings of the 85th Annual Meeting and
Exhibition, Kansas City, Missouri, June 1992.
8. The US Patent # 4,956,926, September 18, 1990.
9. The US Patent # 4,953,478, September 4, 1990.
10. The US Patent # 5,271,162, December 21, 1993.
11. The US Patent # 5,069,801, December 3, 1991.
12. Holcombe, T.C., Sukkel, J. Conversion of Biosolids to Fertilizer with the
Carver-Greenfield Process. 204th American Chemical Society National
Meeting, Washington D.C. August 1992.
13. Guthrie, M., Scrivner, A., Kutz, D., McCarthy, P.C. Sludge Drying
Technology for the Future. CH2M Hill Report. 1993.
14. Girovich, M.J. Simultaneous Sludge Drying and Pelletizing. Water
Engineering and Management. March 1990.
15. Outwater, A.B. Reuse of Sludge and Minor Wastewater Residuals, Lewis
Publishers, 1994.
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Alkaline Stabilization
Mark J. Girovich

Wbeelabrator Clean Water Systems Inc.

Annapolis, Maryland


Use of various chemicals in wastewater slurries processing (chemical treatment)

has been known for many years and in many applications. Chemicals are used to
improve dewaterability, for odor control, pH modification, pasteurization,
disinfection, stabilization, as oxidizing agents in odor control equipment, etc.
Chemical reactions take place in many wastewater treatment processes. Chemicals
commonly used in wastewater slurries treatment are listed in Table 7-1. Lime and
chlorine are the primary chemicals that have been extensively researched and used.
Chlorine, a strong oxidant, has been used to inactivate or destroy microorganisms
in drinking and wastewater treatment. However, use of chloriie is quite expensive
and safety concerns are substantial. Lime or lime containing materials have been
widely used to raise pH to inactivate or destroy pathogenic microorganisms. Lime
is less effective than chlorine, but it is safer, cheaper and easier to use.
Common use of lime in wastewater solids treatment is to 1) stabilize biosolids
and, 2) condition wastewater slurries to improve dewaterabilityand suppress odors.
This Chapter discusses alkaline treatment of wastewater slurries to produce
a beneficial use product. In this application lime and lime containing materials are
the principle treating chemicals used in numerous waste water treatment plants in
the USA and abroad. In addition to lime other chemicals such as cement and lime
kiln dusts (CKD & LKD), certain types of fly ash obtained fiom burning wood and
fossil fuels, by-products of stack gas desulfurization, drinking water treatment
sludges and other materials have been used to stabilize wastewater sludges and to
produce beneficial use products.

344 Girovich

The early use of lime is lost in the antiquity of civilization. The fvst
(unrecorded) use of lime to treat human wastes was perhaps in pit latrines to reduce
odors in Roman camps. Diseased animal bodies were buried in quicklime to
reduce the danger of infection.


Chemical Formula
CaO Major Applications
Quick Lime pH modification, odor control,
pasteurization, disinfection,
stabilization, conditioning to
improve dewaterability

2. I Hydrated
Lime I Ca(oH)2 I pH modification, stabilization,
Dolomitic 1 CaO-MgO I Odor and pH control

4. Potassium Odor control (strong oxidizer)

5. Ferric FeCl, Odor control, conditioning to
Chloride improve dewaterability
6. I Ferric Sulfate I Fe2(S04), I Conditioning, coagulation
7. Aluminum AL,(SO,)- 18.3 Conditioning, coagulation
Sulfate H2O
8. Ozone O,(gas) Disinfection
9. I Chlorine I Cl,(gas) I Disinfection
10. Sodium NaOCl Oxidizing agent in odor
Hypochloride control
11. Sulfuric & H2S04 pH modification in odor
Phosphoric H2P04 control
12. Polymers & Complex Conditioning to improve
Flocculants organic dewaterability
Alkaline Stabilization 345

Chemical treatment of wastewater sludges was first tried in Paris around

1740, however little progress occurred until about 1860.
The use of lime in sewage treatment was practiced in England from the 1890s.
In fact, the problem of deodorizing and disinfecting sewage had already been
studied seriously. British patent of 1871 describes the production of a powder
(made from lime ashes, Portland cement or similar materials) for use in privies or
water closets. It describes how this powder, or materials like lime or kiln dust,
could be combined with night soil or manures to create a product for reuse "in the
service of agriculture" [ 11.
By 1910, several U.S. cities were using lime for precipitation of solids from
wastewater, and by 1915 lime was being actively promoted. A major problem at
that time was improvement of the effluent quality, and liming proved to be an
economical and effective method. Before biological treatment was invented
approximately 70 years ago, lime was frequently used to treat raw sewage. Drying
lime treated sludge on sand beds reduced odor problems, and subsequently, the
dried biosolids were used in agriculture.
The pre-liming of sludge before vacuum filtration (often in conjunction with
ferric chloride) also became an accepted method of solids removal. Studies of
liming conducted between 1942 and 1967 were mostly concentrated on the effects
of pH, temperature and time on bacteria survival in water and sludge. An
important study of lime stabilization was published by Farrell ef al. in 1974 [2].
Major studies of lime stabilization were conducted between 1975 and 1989 [3], [4],
P I ? [61.
Alkaline stabilization research and development was also underway in
Europe, primarily in Norway and Sweden [7]. In 1967 Swedish patent was
awarded for the fust advanced lime stabilization process. In 1978, a similar
process patent was granted in Germany. The distinction of these patents was their
lower temperatures, typically 58 "C to effect pasteurization. Other European
alkaline stabilization processes and patents have since been developed [8].
In Sweden (Gothenburg - Rya WWTP), sea dumping of sludge was replaced
in the early 70s by the lime stabilization process producing the end product for
agricultural purpose. The method added hydrated lime to liquid sludge for
flocculation, and quicklimeto the dewatered sludge to produce heat for sterilization
and enhanced drying. The resultant product was bagged and marketed for
agricultural purposes. The Gothenburg-Rya was the first relatively large plant
(630,000 population in 197 1) which selected quicklime stabilization instead of
aerobic or anaerobic digestion.
Even in the 18th century, farmers knew the agronomic benefits of using night
soils and burnt limestone (quicklime)to enhance crop yields. In 1974, the first use
of burned lime to improve soil productivity was recorded in Pennsylvania.
346 Girovich

Edmund Ruffin, called the "Father of Soil Chemistry in the U.S.," presented a
paper in 1818 stating that southern soils, through single cropping and other bad
farming practices, had become too acidic to retain fertilizer. With application of
burned lime, soil acidity was reduced and enhanced yields of corn and wheat were
Farmers in southeastern Maryland and in New York regularly followed the
practice of liming with burned lime (CaO). Prior to the 1900's, mechanical
equipment did not exist to grind limestone (CaCO,) into the agricultural limestone
we know today. Consequently,the limestone was burned, which resulted in a soft,
porous material that could be used directly on soils. Pulverized limestone became
more available around 1909. Exaggerated claims from the producers led to
considerable conhsion concerning agronomic benefits of different forms of lime.
Pulverized limestone, due to its low cost and broad availability, became the
preferred form of lime used in agriculture. However, numerous studies conducted
since 1912 revealed that "the value of any form of basic lime used in soil
treatments is dependent upon the calcium and magnesium oxide content. If applied
to the soil on the basis of equal lime oxides of similar fineness, the various forms
of basic lime compounds have the same crop producing value. There are no
significant differences between the nitrogen and organic matter content of the
untreated soil, the limestone, and the burned lime treatments. There is, however,
a significant difference in favor of burned lime when used with manure" [9].
The term "stabilized" or "stable" biosolids has been defined in different ways
in the literature and criteria for assessing biosolids stabilization have not been
universally accepted. Pathogen contents, volatile solids content, and odor intensity
(putrescibility) have often been used as an indicator of "stability". Anaerobic and
aerobic digestion, composting and alkaline (lime) treatment are stabilization
processes commonly used in practice. The U.S. EPA 40CFR Part 503 Regulations
promulgated in February, 1993 established quantitative criteria for biosolids
"stabilization"by setting up standards for pathogen and vector attraction reduction.
An alkaline stabilization process can meet the U.S. EPA Part 503 Class A
(PFRP) pathogen reduction requirements by using either pasteurization (Appendix
B) or pH, time, temperature and dryness standards as specified in paragraph 503.32
(a)(4). For example, N-Viro Soil process meets the Paragraph 503.32 (a)(4)
requirements. The BIO*FIX and RDP EnVessel Pasteurization processes meet
pasteurization standards. (The temperature of the sewage sludge is maintained at
70°C (158°F) or higher for 30 minutes or longer.")
To meet Class B (PSRP) requirements an alkaline (lime) stabilizationprocess
should add "sufficient lime... to the sewage sludge to raise the pH of the sewage
sludge to 12 after 2 hours of contact". Additionally, vector attraction reduction
requirements are imposed on both Class A and B alkaline stabilization processes.
Alkaline Stabilization 347

The evolution of alkaline stabilizationtechnology, with process modifications

including various alternative alkaline materials and advancements in processing
equipment, has allowed the production of end-products that can be used in many
ways. Major beneficial use options are:
Organic fertilizer or soil amendment;
. Agricultural liming agent;
. Structural fill material;
Landfill daily and final cover; and
Erosion controVslope stabilization.

The selection for a management option for alkaline stabilized biosolids

depends on many economic and marketplace factors. However, the treated product
must fit the requirements for the end-use. Alkaline stabilization can be an effective
treatment process for biosolids with various characteristics. Depending on the end-
use, the chemically-treated sludge must be: (1) stabilized; (2)non-hazardous; (3)
non-infectious; (4) reasonably odorless; and ( 5 ) physically and chemically suitable.
Although alkaline stabilization has been used for many years in both the
United States and in Europe, its usage to produce a microbiologically "clean"
product has been limited. Although viruses and bacteria are partially inactivated
by raising the pH to 12 for two hours (Class B or PSRP treatment), additional
treatment is required to inactivate certain pathogens and reach Class A (PFRP)
There are numerous studies documenting the inactivation of viruses and
bacteria and regrowth potential through alkaline stabilization [2][4][5].
The conventional alkaline stabilization of wastewater solids through the
addition of lime has been a commonly used practice for many years. According
to the U.S. EPA Needs Survey (1989) over 250 POTWs use lime to stabilize
wastewater solids. Lime stabilization is most popular in small and medium size
plants. New forms of alkaline stabilizationother than conventional lime treatment
have been developed and used. These technologies add alkaline materials such as
cement kiln dust (CKD),lime kiln dust (LKD), Portland cement, scrubber ash, fly
ash, etc. and involve special equipment or processing steps.
Adjustments to the conventional alkaline stabilization process allows the
production of a product with different physical and chemical characteristics, or a
"designer product," depending on the intended end-use as well as compliance with
more stringent pathogen, vector attraction and odor reduction requirements. By
varying process parameters such as the type and dosage of the alkaline material,
mixing configurations, heating, windrowing, or drying advanced alkaline
stabilizationprovides diversification and flexibility, which municipalities so often
348 Girovich

need when managing their biosolids.

Generally two types of lime stabilizationprocesses are utilized with respect
to their location in the overall wastewater residuals treatment:

1) Lime stabilizationbefore dewatering, often called pre-lime stabilization, and

2) Stabilization after dewatering called post-lime stabilization.

Proprietary advanced alkaline post-liming technologies available now in the

U.S. include: BIO*FIX process, N-Viro's Advanced Alkaline Stabilization with
Subsequent Accelerated Drying Process (ASSAAD), RDP's En-Vessel
Pasteurization, Chemfix process, and Leopold Willotech process. With the
enforcement of the U.S. EPA 503 Regulations and as the end-use opportunities
grow, the number of enhanced alkaline stabilization processes and facilities will
continue to increase.


A. Pre-Lime and Post-Lime Stabilization

1. Pre-Lime Stabilization

Generating a beneficial use material from liquid biosolids by alkaline (lime)

stabilization has been common practice for many wastewater treatment plants for
many years, usually by small capacity plants (less than 5 mgd). Liquid (not
mechanically dewatered) wastewater residuals can be treated by quick or hydrated
lime to reach the pH 2 12 and then applied (injected or sprayed) to soil. In certain
circumstances this practice is quite an economical way of recycling municipal
biosolids. Pre-lime stabilization typically produces liquid product in compliance
with Class B standards. Average lime dosages (lime ratios) for the Class B liquid
biosolids are shown in Table 7-2.


Type of Biosolids YOTS Average Lime Ratio * pH
Primary 3-6 0.12 12.7
Waste Activated 1 - 1.5 0.30 12.6

* pounds
I Anaerobic 6-7 0.19 12.4
Alkaline Stabilization 349

With the passage of the 503 Regulations new pathogen and vector attraction
reduction requirements should be met for pre-lime stabilization (Table 7-3).
A number of additional restrictions apply (public access, monitoring and
record keeping, type of crops, etc.). The pH of the pre-lime stabilized biosolids
reduces gradually depending upon the lime ratios. At high dosages (lime ratio of
0.3) a pH of 12 can be maintained for days and possibly weeks; but it drops quickly
(hours or few days) at lime ratios below .O. 15. Other alkaline materials have been
tried for pre-lime stabilization (e.g. fly ash), however there is no sufficient data
concerning environmental and health compliance or economics of the alternative
materials. Pathogen and vector attraction reduction requirements for Class B
alkaline stabilized biosolids are shown in Table 7-3.


I Requirements Standards
I. Pathogen Raise pH to 12 after 2 hours of contact (Appendix
Reduction B) or Comply with Fecal Coliform Density
standards [503.32(b)(2)]
1. At least 38% reduction in volatile organic solids
[503.33(b)(l)]; or
2. Raise pH to at least 12 (at 25°C) and maintained
pH t 12 for 2 hours and pH 2 11.5 for 22 more
hours [503.33(b)(9)]; or
3. Inject into soil so that no significant amount is
present on the land surface 1 hour after injection
[503.33(b)(9)]; or
4. Incorporate into soil within 6 hours after
application [503,33(b)(lO)l.

2. Post-Lime Stabilization

As a final processing step before beneficial use or disposal, alkaline treatment of

dewatered biosolids has gained popularity in the USA in the late 80's to early 90's
due to the following major factors: a) promulgation of the 503 Regulations; b)
process simplicity; c) low capital cost; d) relatively quick permitting and
construction. Alkaline stabilization became especially attractive to a municipality
under a court mandate to cease ocean dumping or other unacceptable existing
350 Girovich

practice. (Middlesex Co., NJ; Bergen Co., NJ; Howard Co., MD; South Essex
Sewerage District, MA; Toledo, OH; etc.)
Significant development work and regulatory attention was initially focused
on alkaline treatment of industrial rather than municipal sludges with special
attention given to the disposal of industrial and nuclear wastes. Earlier
developments and related patents were made by Chemfut, Roediger Pittsburgh Inc.,
N-Viro, RDP Company, Dravo Lime Co., Envirotech Corp., Hazcon Inc., F. B.
Leopold Co. lnc., Soliditech, Inc., Lodige, Rhenuslager, and Albert Klein KG
The purpose of the post-lime stabilizationis to reduce (Class B) or to eliminate
(Class A) pathogenic organisms, to comply with vector attraction reduction
requirements, minimize odors and nuisance conditions and, last but not least, to
produce a marketable beneficial use product with minimum cost. Majority of the
post-lime stabilized biosolids are beneficially land applied or used as a substitution
for landfill cover material. Post-lime stabilizationtypically produces the following
beneficial use products:

a) Class B (PSRP) material to use as a soil fertilizer for specifically permitted sites;
b) Class A (PFRP) material to use as an agricultural liming agent;
c) Landfill cover material in compliance with physical properties required by
landfill operation; it can be either Class A or B material.

Several studies have demonstrated that biosolids lime-treated to a pH of 12.0

achieve significant pathogen reduction. In fact, it was shown that post-lime
stabilization was as good or better in terms of fecal coliform and fecal
streptococcus pathogen reduction (but excluding helminth ova), than the liquid
sludge pre-lime stabilization,mesophilic aerobic digestion, anaerobic digestion and
mesophilic composting [2][5][10][11].
Exothermic reaction of quicklime (CaO) can yield Class A (PFRP) biosolids
provided sufficient lime is added to achieve pasteurization (70°C for no less than
30 minutes). External heat can also be utilized to reach pasteurization level and to
reduce CaO consumption.
It is convenient to express lime dosage in tons of CaO per dry ton of solids
(lime ratio). Theoretical lime dosages (lime ratios) required to achieve pH of no
less than 12 and a temperature of no less than 70°C are highly dependent on solids
content and vary from 0.3 to 2.5 (Figure 7-1). However, in practice higher dosages
of lime or addition of a bulking material are often needed to meet specific
requirements of the end use such as dryness, granularity, spreadability,
compactability, nutrient content, etc.
Alkaline Stabilization 351

Major advantages of pre- and post-lime stabilization are:

. Meeting pathogen and vector reduction requirements of the 503 Regulations;
such compliance can be achieved without biological treatment (digestion)
which is often economically beneficial especially for small POTWs.
. Reduction of odors.

1 A
0 Dosage to Achieve Class
3,OOt- A (Pasteurization) Only
n 2,SO t
2.5 0

2.0 g=.,
2800 t-

.-*0 04

2 1.5
-El 1,50[-

d a
1.O "0 l,OO[-
Class B Stabilization
0.5 -& 500-

0 10 20 30 40 50 60'


352 Girovich

Disadvantages are:
. Limited markets for alkaline stabilized biosolids especially for the pre-lime
stabilization of liquid biosolids;
Substantial storage is required due to seasonal and market variations.
. Re-lime stabilization (i.e. alkaline stabilization of liquid biosolids) can meet
only Class B (PSRP) requirements.

B. Process Fundamentals

A number of chemical reactions take place during alkaline (lime) stabilization

process. The principal reaction is that of calcium oxide (quicklime) with water,
producing hydrated lime and heat:
CaO + H20= Ca(OH), + Heat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7.1)
15,300 calories/gram*mol(at
27,500 BTU/lbamol
491 BTU/lb of lime

Hydration of one pound of quicklime ties 0.32 pounds of free water available
in biosolids to produce 1.32 pounds of dry hydrated lime approximately. Hydrated
lime is sparingly soluble in water and disassociatesto produce an equilibrium pH
of 11.3 to 12.53 as follows [12]:

CaO, 0.064 0.122 0.164 0.271 0.462 0.710 1.027 1.160


PH 11.27 11.54 11.66 11.89 12.10 12.31 12.47 12.53

(25 "C)

At 1.16 gramdliter calcium hydroxide solution is saturated at a pH of 12.53.

Solubility of CaO decreases as the temperature increases and pH is correspondingly
lower at higher temperatures. A pH should always be measured at

1. Heat Generation

The most significant exothermic (heat releasing) reaction is that of quicklime

hydration. 491 BTUs per each pound of lime are generated within 3 to 20 minutes
during the quicklime hydration process.
Alkaline Stabilization 353

Exothermic reactions between lime and silica, aluminum and ferric oxides also
occur when these oxides are present:
CaO + Fe,O, + Al,03 + H,O = Ca(OH),~A1203~Fe,03~nH,0
Ca(OH), + H,O + A1,03 = CaOmAl,O,mCa(OH),mnH,O
Ca(OH), + S O z = CaO*SiOpnH,O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7.2)

These reactions produce pozzolanic (cementitious) products (complex

C02produced by sludge decomposition and CO, in the atmosphere react with
CaO + CO, = CaCO, + Heat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7.3)
a. 43,300 cal./grammmol (at 25°C)
a. 78,000 BTU/lbmmol

a. 1,393 BTU/lb of CaO

The reaction between quicklime and carbon dioxide is highly exothermic,

however it is of an order of magnitude slower than that of quicklime and water due
to low CO, concentration in the biosolids and the atmosphere.
The atmospheric CO, reaction with dry quicklime leads to gradual lime
deterioration in storage.

2. Alkaline and Other Reactions

The term pH expresses the hydrogen ion activity, i.e. intensity of the acid or
alkaline condition of a solution and it is defined as follows:
p H = - log [H'] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(7.4)

Pure water disassociatesto small degree yielding hydrogen ions (H') equal to
l o 7 moldliter; thus pure water has a pH of 7. It is also neutral since lo-' mole/liter
of hydroxide ion (OH-) is produced simultaneously,(H,O = H' + OH). Addition
of an alkali such as Ca(OH), reduces the number of free hydrogen ions causing an
increase in pH, because additional OH- ions unite with K ions. The pH scale is
acid from 0 to 7 and basic (alkaline) from 7 to 14. The pH adjustment by lime is
a two step process: first the CaO reacts with water in biosolids to produce calcium
hydroxide [Ca(OH),] and then the calcium hydroxide raises the pH of biosolids.
The hydration of calcium oxide is a quick process (approximately 1 to 1.5 minutes)
provided water is available. Availability of free water in biosolids is an important
factor: generally, the wetter the dewatered biosolids, the quicker the reaction will
be. If biosolids are dry (L 30% TS) then more retention time is required for lime
354 Girovich

hydration and temperature to rise. Other factors are the lime reactivity and particle
size. Generally the smaller the particles the better lime utilization can be achieved.
Alkaline materials used in the biosolids stabilization may also contain other
base forming compounds such as calcite (CaCO,, limestone), 5 0 , dolomite
(CaMg(CO,),), N&CQ (in cement kiln dust), silicates (in fly ash) and metal
oxides. Reactions of these compounds with water in biosolids effect the pH
adjustment and heat release.
The chemistry of the lime stabilization of biosolids has not been completely
understood and described in detail. The following reactions between lime and
organic and inorganic ions in biosolids possibly occur [ 1 11:
Ca2' + 2HC0,- + CaO = 2CaC0, + H,O ..................... Q
2POi3 + 6H' + 3Ca0 = Ca, (PO,), + 3H20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 06)
Organic Acids (RCOOH) + CaO t+ RCOOHCaOH . . . . . . . . . . v.3
Fats + CaO 4 Fatty Acids ............................... V.8)



Alkaline Stabilization 355

As a result of these reactions, the amount of available organic matter and

phosphorus in the end product decreases. If insufficient lime is added, the pH may
decrease also due to the above referenced reactions. Theoretically, the amount of
lime required to raise the pH to a given value can be calculated, however, these
calculations are often unreliable.

3. Odors

Odors in wastewater solids are largely a result of organic matter decomposition.

Odors are generally comprised of nitrogen and sulfur containing organic and
inorganic compounds and certain volatile hydrocarbons. The nitrogen compounds
contained in biosolids include soluble ammonium (NH,'), organic nitrogen, nitrates
and nitrites. Total amount of nitrogen is quantified by the Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen
(TKN) analysis.
Ammonium ions in alkaline conditions are converted into ammonia gas:
NH,'+OH--NH,+H,O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(7.9)

356 Girovich

The higher the pH, the more gaseous ammonia (NH,) is released from the
alkaline stabilized biosolids. Figure 7-2 illustrates the effect of pH on ammonia
release at various pH levels. At the pH of 11, all ammonium ions are converted to
ammonia gas which if not controlled, can cause considerable odor problems.
On the other hand, high pH levels essentially eliminate odors due to hydrogen
sulfide and possibly other sulphur-containingodor pollutants such as mercaptans
and organic sulfides. Figure 7-3 illustrates that as pH increases, the gaseous
hydrogen sulfide (H,S) decreases while water soluble H S and S- increase. At pH
of 9, gaseous H,S release is essentially at 0% [l I].
This phenomenon explains why alkaline stabilized biosolids exhibit
predominantly ammonia-based odors while other severe odor pollutants are
generally eliminated or inhibited [13]. High pH levels typically reached in alkaline
stabilization inactivate or destroy microorganisms involved in decomposition of
biosolids, thus contributing to odor suppression.
However, it was observed that odors due to nitrogen-containing organic
compounds which are products of organic matter decomposition continue to persist
even at the high pH. These include amines, and more specifically trimethylamine
(TMA) and possibly cadaverine, indole, etc. (Chapter 1, Table 1-8).

4. Acidic Soil Neutralization

Alkaline stabilized biosolids are used as an agricultural lime (CaCO,) substitute to

modify the soil pH to a near neutral level to improve soil productivity.
When lime-stabilized biosolids are added to an acid soil (pH of 4.5 - 5 3 , the
initial acid neutralization reaction in the soil is:
Ca(OH), + 2H+(soil)= Ca2+(soil) + 2H20 ............... (7.10)

Acidic soil neutralization using calcium carbonate limestone is as follows:

CaCO, +2H+(soil) = Ca2+(soil) + CO, + H,O . . . . . . . . . . . . (7.1 1)

In both reactions, two hydrogen ions in the soil are exchanged for one calcium
ion thus reducing the hydrogen ion concentration and raising the soil pH [ 151.
Hydrated lime is 100 times more soluable than lime and as a result, the 7.10
reaction is significantly quicker than the 7.1 1. Hydrated lime is generally more
effective in reducing soil acidity than limestone [9].
The acid neutralizing capacity of a liming agent is determined by acid titration
to a pH of 7. This is then expressed as calcium carbonate equivalence (CCE)
which is the acid neutralizing capacity of the material relative to that of pure
CaCO,. A CCE value of 50% means that it would take two times more of the
Alkaline Stabilization 357

material to satisfy a soil liming requirement of pure CaCO,. Special laboratory

methods are employed to determine the CCE [ 151.
The amount and type of alkaline material determines the residual alkalinity of
the end product and its forms (Ca(OH), or CaCO,). Typically, Ca(OH), has an
equilibrium pH in water of about 12.5 and that of CaCO, is approximately 8.2.
Usually, Ca(OH), determines the end product pH.

5. Immobilization of Heavy Metals

High pH level of alkaline stabilized biosolids causes conversion of water soluble

metal ions (except for molybdenum and selenium) into water insoluble metal
Me' + 20H- Me(OH)* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7.12)
(Me indicates a metal)

Metal hydroxides precipitate from the soil solution and become largely
unavailable for the plant's uptake. Metal mobility is greatly reduced as well. Metal
immobilization is a complex process which also involves absorption to mineral
surfaces, precipitation as carbonates, complexation by organic matter, etc.

C. Alkaline Materials

1. Lime

Lime in its various forms, as quicklime and hydrated lime, is the principal, lowest
cost alkali. It is the second (after sulfuric acid) greatest basic chemical in tonnage
produced. It is manufactured by approximately 80 plants in 29 of 50 US states.
Over 18.7 million tons of lime are consumed annually (1993) in the United States
and over 137 million tons worldwide.
Lime is the greatest tonnage chemical consumed in water treatment, in sewage
and industrial waste treatment. In recent years lime has become a major chemical
for desulfurization of stack gases at power plants and industrial boilers.
Lime (calcium oxide or burned lime) is produced by burning limestone
(CaCO,). Burned lime was manufactured from limestone as early as 1661 in
Providence, R.I. Lime is a general term but by strict definition it only embraces
burned forms of lime: quicklime, hydrated lime, and hydraulic lime. The two
forms of particular interest to biosolids treatment, however, are quicklime and to
a lesser degree hydrated lime. Limestone (calcium carbonate) is occasionally but
erroneously referred to as "lime".
358 Girovich

High Calcium Dolomitic

Primary Constituents CaO CaO and MgO

Specific Gravity 3.2 - 3.4 3.25 - 3.45

Bulk Density (Pebble Lime), 55 - 60 55 - 60


Specific Heat at 100"F.,Btdlb. 0.19 0.2 1

Angle of Repose (approx. average 50 - 55 50 - 55

for pebble)

High Calcium Dolomitic

Primary Constituents Ca(OH)* Ca(OH),+MgO

Specific Gravity 2.3 - 2.4 2.7 - 2.9

Bulk Density, lb./cu.ft. 25 - 35 30 - 40

Specific Heat at 100"F., Btdlb. 0.29 0.29

Angle of Repose 70 70

High Calcium Dolomitic

Primary Constituents CaCO, CaCO, and

Specific Gravity 2.65 - 2.75 2.75 - 2.90

Bulk Density (3/4-in. Stone), 87 - 95 87 - 95

Specific Heat at 100"F., Btu/lb.
Alkaline Stabilization 359

Limestone, calcium oxide and hydrated lime have been used extensively in
agriculture to neutralize acidic soils. When pulverized limestone became a
competitor on the agricultural lime market about 1909, a competition arose
between the producers of various types of lime products. Exaggerated claims led
to considerable confusion concerning agronomic values of the different forms of
lime. Numerous studies performed since 1912 proved that there is no principle
difference between different forms of lime with respect to their agronomic value.
If applied to the soil on the basis of equal lime oxides of similar fineness, the
various forms of basic lime compounds have the same crop producing effect [9].
Various types of lime are used for acid neutralization in waste treatment
processes. Basic data on the properties of the common types of lime products are
provided in Table 7-4.
Quicklime's ability to raise the temperature over time (reactivity) and percent
of available CaO in commercial quicklime are important factors for an alkaline
stabilization process involving temperature-time. Particle size distribution is
another factor effecting lime usage. These factors should be specified when
purchasing quicklime.

a. Quicklime

Quicklime (burned lime) is the product resulting from the calcination of limestone
and to a lesser extent shell in rotary or vertical kilns at temperatures of 2000" -
2400" F. It consists primarily of the oxides of calcium and magnesium. On the
basis of their chemical analyses, quicklimes may be divided into three classes:
1 . High calcium quicklime - containing principally calcium oxide (CaO) and less
than 5 percent magnesium oxide (MgO).
2. Magnesium quicklime - containing 5 to 35 percent magnesium oxide.
3. Dolomitic quicklime - containing 35 to 40 percent magnesium oxide.

Magnesium quicklime is relatively rare in the United States and is only available
in a few localities.
Quicklime is available in a number of more or less standard sizes, as follows:
1. Lump lime - the product with a maximum size of eight inches in diameter
down to two to three inches, produced in vertical kilns.
2. Crushed or pebble lime - the most common form which ranges in size from
about 2 to '/4 inches, produced in most kiln types.
3. Granular lime - the product that has a particulate size range of 100% passing
a # S sieve and 100% retained on a #SO sieve (a dustless product).
360 Girovich

4. Ground lime - the product resulting from grinding the larger sized material and
screening off the fine size. A typical size is substantiallyall passing a #8 sieve
and 40 to 60% passing a #lo0 sieve.
5. Pulverized lime - the product resulting from a more intense grinding than is
used to produce ground lime. A typical size is substantially all passing a #20
sieve and 85 to 95% passing a #lo0 sieve.
6. Pelletized lime - the product made by compressing quicklime fines into about
one-inch sized pellets or briquettes.


Major screen sizes are provided in Table 7-5.

Quicklime is shipped in either bulk carloads or tanker trucks or in 80-pound
multiwall paper bags. Lump, crushed, pebble, or pelletized lime are rarely handled
Alkaline Stabilization 361

in bags and are almost universally shipped in bulk. The finer sizes of quicklime,
ground, granular, and pulverized, are readily handled in either bulk or bags.
Quicklime storage must be designed to avoid any accidental contact with

Lime Reactivity
Availability of active quicklime and its reactivity level are important factors for
alkaline stabilization processes. Reactivity of CaO varies in limes from different
suppliers. The quicklime used in alkaline stabilization process, especially when
heat of its exothermic reaction is important (i.e. pasteurization), should be of the
quality known as "quick slaking" and shall slake easily, readily disintegrating into
a suspension, while producing a required temperature rise of 40°C (72°F) in
predetermined time.
Three major types of CaO are defmed as follows (ANSVAWWA B202-93
"Standard for Quicklime and Hydrated Lime"):
1) A high reactive lime will show a temperature rise of 40°C (72°F) in 3
minutes or less and the reaction will be complete within 10 minutes.
2) A medium reactive lime will show a temperature rise of 40°C (72°F) in
3-6 minutes and the reaction will be complete within 10-20 minutes.
3) A low reactive lime will require more than 6 minutes to raise temperature
to 40°C (72°F) and more than 20 minutes to complete the reaction.

Quicklime will deteriorate in storage at a much more rapid rate than hydrated
lime. Under good storage conditions, with multiwall moisture proofed bags,
quicklime may be held as long as six months, but in general should not be stored
over three months.

b. Hydrated Lime

Hydrated lime is:

"A dry powder obtained by treating quicklime with water enough to satisfy its
chemical affinity for water under the conditions of its hydration." (ASTM
C5 1-81)

The chemical composition of hydrated lime generally reflects the composition

of the quicklime from which it is derived. A high calcium quicklime will produce
a high calcium hydrated lime containing 72 to 74 percent calcium oxide and 23 to
24 percent water in chemical combination with the calcium oxide. A dolomitic
quicklime will produce a dolomitic hydrate. Under normal hydrating conditions
the calcium oxide fraction of the dolomitic quicklime completely hydrates, but only
362 Girovich

a small portion of the magnesium oxide hydrates (about 5 to 20%). The

composition of a normal dolomitic hydrate will be 46 to 48 percent calcium oxide,
33 to 34 percent magnesium oxide, and 15 to 17 percent water in chemical
combination with the calcium oxide. (With some soft-burned dolomitic
quicklimes, 20 to 50% of the MgO will hydrate.)
A "special" or pressure hydrated dolomitic lime has almost all (more than
92%) of the oxides hydrated.
Hydrated lime is air-classified to produce the fineness necessary to meet the
requirements of the user. The normal grades of hydrate used for chemical purposes
will have 75 to 95 percent or more passing a #200 sieve, while for special uses the
hydrate may be classified as fine as 99.5 percent passing #325 sieve. Hydrated
lime is packed in paper bags weighing 50 pounds net; it is also shipped in bulk.

2. Other Materials

a. Kiln Dusts

Kiln dust is a by-product of the production of cement (CKD) or lime (LKD).

Cement kiln dust is readily available throughout the USA as over 12 million tons
are generated annually. Kiln dust is collected by a variety of systems such as
mechanical cyclones, bag filters and dry electrostatic precipitators (ESP).
Approximately 64% of all cement kiln dust is now recycled into the
manufacturingprocess. About 7% of CKD produced (approximately900,000 tons)
was sold for off-site use, most of it as a waste stabilizing additive or liming agent
(1992). Utilization of kiln dust available at low cost (or no cost) for biosolids
alkaline stabilization provides an alternative for the more expensive quicklime.
Typical chemical composition of CKD is depicted in Table 7-6. In order to be
efficient in the biosolids stabilization kiln dust should contain a sufficient amount
of active CaO (25% - 40%) and its heavy metal content must be strictly controlled.
The CKD and LKD chemical composition varies widely depending on the type
of raw material and fuel involved, variations in the manufacturing process, etc.
Some cement manufacturersuse waste or even hazardous materials to supplement
fossil fuel so quality control is important when using kiln dusts €or biosolids
On February 7, 1995 the U.S. EPA determined that "additional control of
CKD is warranted in order to protect the public from human health risks and to
prevent environmental damage resulting from . . . disposal of this waste." The
U.S. EPA will develop a set of standards under Subtitle C of RCRA for the use
and disposal of CKD. Until these standards are published, CKD will continue to
be exempt from hazardous waste status. The cement manufacturing plants
Alkaline Stabilization 363

which use hazardous waste as a fuel will be required to test their CKD to prove
that it remains unaffected.


Component 'YORange Component mgkg, dry basis

CaO 25 -40 Arsenic 1 - 80
Mercury 1-5
Si02 14- 15 Cadmium 1-45
A1203 5-6 Nickel 3 -60

Fe203 11-2 I Copper I 500 - 1,000 I

MgO 1-2 Lead 5 - 2,620

so3 6-7 Chromium 5 - 100

KZO 4.0 - 4.5 Zinc 500 - 1,000

No 200 mesh

Total Solids 1 100 I Silver

b. Flv and FGD Ash

Millions of tons of fly ash and flue gas desulfurization(FGD) ash are produced
as a result of intensive use of coal for electrical power generation. These ashes
contain some essential plant nutrients. Numerous studies have been conducted to
evaluate the effects of ash application on properties of soil and its use in biosolids
treatment. Composition of ash varies considerably. In general, fly and FGD ashes
are rich in Ca and Mg and therefore can be used as a liming agent either alone or
in alkaline treatment of biosolids. Application of fly and FGD ash mixed with
biosolids increases soil moisture-holding capacity. Its effect on soil microbial
activity if applied at low rates is negligible.
364 Girovich

Ash trace metal content should be carehlly analyzed to avoid potential

adverse effects on crops.
A typical chemical analysis of calcium and magnesium based scrubber ash is
provided in Table 7-7.

Calcium Ash Magnesium Ash,

# Components YOby Weight YOby Weight

9 K,O 0.6 - 1.0 0.4 - 0.45

10 Na,O 0.15 - 0.25 0.0 - 0.1
11 pHunits 12.4 9.65
12 Density, IbkF 60 - 80 53 - 60

Calcium- and magnesium-based FGD ash can be used in biosolids alkaline

stabilization. Magnesium-based FGD ash contains significant amounts of
magnesium sulfite (MgSO,) which reacts exothermically with water providing
additional heat. Presence of magnesium and sulhr, important plant nutrients,
enhances agronomic value of the stabilizedbiosolids treated with magnesium based
scrubber ash. Calcium based FGD ash which contains sizable amounts of active
CaO can be used as a source of heat and as a bulking agent. FGD ash heavy metal
content should be strictly monitored and controlled.
Alkaline Stabilization 365

scrubber ash. Calcium based scrubber ash which contains sizable amounts of
active CaO can be used as a source of heat and as a bulking agent. Scrubber ash
heavy metal content should be strictly monitored and controlled.

3. Transportationand Storage of Alkaline Materials

The principal form of lime and other dry alkaline materials transportation is
pneumatic trucking. Pneumatic (blower) trucks are available with compartmented
tanks varying from 700 to 1300 cu. ft. capacity (the latter delivers up to 20 tons of
hydrate and 24 tons of pebble lime). Air for blowing is provided by a blower
mounted on the trailer. The largest size of pebble lime that can be pumped
efficiently from blower trucks is 1 '/s in., although 1 in. top size is preferred.
Pebble lime may be blown as much as 100 ft. vertically and 150 ft. on a combined
vertical and horizontal run. Hydrated lime can be blown readily up to 300 ft.
combined vertical and horizontal run. Normally a blower truck can be unloaded
in about 60 minutes.
Airslide trucks are also used for lime delivery, particularly for the finer lime
products (hydrate and pulverized quicklime). In these trucks the lime is fluidized
by low pressure air and conveyed in a slightly inclined trough to the discharge end
of the truck. A separate conveyor system then transfers the lime to storage. A
separate fan mounted on the truck provides the air for fluidizing.
Covered rail hopper cars haul up to 100 tons of quicklime or 50 tons of
hydrated lime. The lime is discharged to an undertrack hopper, then taken by
screw conveyor and bucket elevator to plant storage, or pneumatically unloaded.
The newest type of rail car for lime is the pneumatic, either the pressure
differential or the airslide car, comparable to the blower and airslide trucks,


Screw Size Tons Quicklime
(inches) Normal RPM (per hour)
6 50 2 - 2.5
9 50 7-8
12 50 15 -20
16 50 45 - 50
366 Girovich

containers are removed and stored at the plant until use. In addition to pneumatic
conveyance there are two other means of transporting bulk alkaline materials to
storage: mechanical and vacuum.
With mechanical handling the lime and similar materials are generally
discharged into a hopper, then transferred by conveyor to a bucket elevator, then
elevated to storage. Pan and drag conveyors are preferred for larger sized
quicklime, and for long runs. Belt conveyors are not recommended for transferring
lime because of dusting.
Data on screw conveyor and elevator capacity which can be used for
estimating purposes are given in Tables 7-8 and 7-9; however for final design
purposes, the equipment manufacturer should be consulted.
Lime and other alkaline materials are not corrosive and carbon steel or, less
often concrete bins and silos are used for storage. The silos must be watertight and
airtight. Basic data for a popular 12 ft. diameter silo are provided in Table 7-10
and Figure 7-4.


Quantity and size of storage silos is dictated by such factors as daily

consumption, number of alkaline materials used, type of delivery, fbture needs, etc.
The total storage capacity should be at least 50% greater than the minimum
truck or rail delivery in order to guarantee adequate lime supply. In case of steady
daily demand it may be prudent to have even greater reserve capacity to insure at
least a week of supply. Selection of a storage silo involves numerous
considerations such as silo shape, transportability, height to diameter ratio, type and
slope at cone bottom, use of vibrators or air pads for improved flowability,
preventing material bridging and ratholing, type of a discharge device, dust
Alkaline Stabilization 367

collection, etc. The flow of lime varies from good for pebble and granulated
quicklime to erratic for pulverized quicklime, hydrated lime and fine materials.
Quicklime tends to absorb moisture readily, forming an adherent soft cake
which can cause bridging in storage. Hydrated lime tends to form rat holes, craters,
or chimneys due to its fluffy texture and also possibly to electrostatic charges.
Because of the inherent problems with lime's flowability, several methods of
design have been developed to facilitate unloading. These include special design
considerations in silo construction, the use of external vibrators and air pads, as
well as internal anti-packing and anti-bridging devices and live bin bottoms. The
interior silo walls should not be painted, and should be kept as smooth as possible,
fiee from projections like bolt heads, welding ridges, offset joints, etc. which could
restrict material flow. In some cases plastic materials have been used to coat the
hopper bottoms to reduce fiiction and improve flowability. Height to diameter ratio
of 2.5 - 4.0 is most desirable. Hopper silo bottoms should have a minimum slope
of 60" fiom the horizontal; for hydrate lime a greater slope angle is desirable. An
electromagnetic vibrator, attached to the outside of the silo, is the most popular
device to improve flowability. It is more suitable for quicklime than hydrate,
because vibration tends to pack the hydrate. With pebble quicklime the vibrator
can be operated continuously during discharge. Best results are achieved with
vibrators attached to a cone which is connected to the silo via a flexible joint
(vibrating bin activators). Vibrators should only be operated while the hopper is
open to flow to prevent packing.


*I2 ft. diameter silo with 60" cone.

Several internal devices have also been developed to prevent bridging. One
such internal device is a double-ended cone which is mounted near the base of the
conical hopper. The cone decreases the downward pressure of material above the
368 Girovich

discharge opening, thus helping to prevent packing and minimize rat-holing. There
are other designs to prevent bridging.

D (12')

X X-


ToFeeder -
1. Support Structure; 2. Activated Suspended Cone;
3. Pneumatic Feed Pipe;4. Fabric Filter; 5 . Safety
Valve; 6. High & Low Level Indicators; 7. Vibrator
Alkaline Stabilization 369

Air jets and pulsating air pads are also used on silos to facilitate flow of
hydrated lime. Normally, air activation is not recommended for quicklime since
any moisture in the air would cause air slaking. Each silo should be vented and
equipped with a dust collection device.
In earlier