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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Energy recovery through co-pyrolysis of wastewater sludge and forest residues -The transition from laboratory to pilot scale

Kwapinska, Marzena; Horvat, Alen; Agar, David; Leahy, James J.


Anaerobically digested sewage sludge mixed with forest residues was pyrolysed at 800 °C, at laboratory and pilot scale. The study quantified differences in char and gas yields for tests carried out in a simple fixed bed laboratory reactor and rotating retort pyrolyser at pilot scale, when the residence time of feedstock was 10 min in both cases. The yield of char from pilot scale was 4 % lower than from laboratory scale while the yield of gas was 15.7 % higher. During the pilot scale pyrolysis of anaerobically digested sewage sludge blended with forest residues the gas quality for energy recovery applications was assessed and the fate of impurities (tar, NH3 and H2S) was investigated. The raw pyrolysis gas contained 14.6 g/Nm3 of tar, 36.9 g/Nm3 of NH3 and 793 ppm of H2S. Sixteen N-containing tar species were identified of which pyridine, propenenitrile, 2-methyl-, benzonitrile, and indole are found to be the most abundant. The yield of N-containing tar compounds accounted for approx. 12 % of total tar content. Conditioned pyrolysis gas contained 7.1 g/Nm3 of tar, 0.036 g/Nm3 of NH3 and 119 ppm of H2S. Benzene was by far the most abundant tar compound followed by toluene and styrene. The specifications of the used internal combustion engine were exceeded due to the sum of tar compounds such as fluorantrene and pyrene with 4+ aromatic rings (at 0.0015 g/Nm3) and NH3 content The effectiveness and sustainability of energy recovery in wastewater treatment can be improved using forest industry by-products.


Pyrolysis gas; Tar; Char; Thermal conversion; Circular economy; Gas impurities

Published in

Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis
2021, volume: 158, article number: 105283

Authors' information

Kwapinska, Marzena
University of Limerick
Horvat, Alen
Carlos III Univ Madrid (UC3M)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Biomaterials and Technology
Leahy, James J.
University of Limerick

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UKÄ Subject classification

Renewable Bioenergy Research

Publication Identifiers


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