Dependency on oil and coal could be coming to an end. Researchers from the Rovira i Virgili University (URV) have analysed the environmental and human health impacts of an alternative fuel that solves various problems simultaneously. This is the solid waste from the water treatment plants of large cities.
The scientists have carried out the first study into this method at a cement plant in Vallcarca (Catalonia), which has been producing cement for more than 100 years, and they confirm in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research that it is “the best option for getting rid of mud that would have had to be dumped elsewhere, while also powering the plant”.
As this mud is already waste, burning it does not enter into the atmospheric CO2 emissions assigned to each country under the Kyoto Protocol”, José Luis Domingo, lead author of the study and director of the Toxicology and Environmental Health Laboratory at the URV, tells SINC.
This would enable plants producing cement, one of the most contaminating industries in terms of CO2 as well as emissions of dioxins, furans and heavy metals, to consume energy in a more environmentally-friendly way. Up to 20% of the fossil fuel energy used at the Catalan plant has now been substituted for the fuel from waste water treatment plant mud.