Evaluation of solar sludge drying alternatives by costs and area requirements

Kurt M., Aksoy A., Sanin F. D.

WATER RESEARCH, vol.82, pp.47-57, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 82
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.watres.2015.04.043
  • Journal Name: WATER RESEARCH
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.47-57
  • Keywords: Drying cost, Greenhouse solar dryer, Sludge drying, Solar panel, Optimization, Thermal dryer, SEWAGE-SLUDGE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Thermal drying is a common method to reach above 90% dry solids content (DS) in sludge. However, thermal drying requires high amount of energy and can be expensive. A greenhouse solar dryer (GSD) can be a cost-effective substitute if the drying performance, which is typically 70% DS, can be increased by additional heat. In this study feasibility of GSD supported with solar panels is evaluated as an alternative to thermal dryers to reach 90% DS. Evaluations are based on capital and O&M costs as well as area requirements for 37 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with various sludge production rates. Costs for the supported GSD system are compared to that of conventional and co-generation thermal dryers. To calculate the optimal costs associated with the drying system, an optimization model was developed in which area limitation was a constraint. Results showed that total cost was minimum when the DS in the GSD (DSm,i) was equal to the maximum attainable value (70% DS). On average, 58% of the total cost and 38% of total required area were associated with the GSD. Variations in costs for 37 WWTPs were due to differences in initial DS (DSi,i) and sludge production rates, indicating the importance of dewatering to lower drying costs. For large plants, GSD supported with solar panels provided savings in total costs especially in long term when compared to conventional and co-generation thermal dryers. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.