Sanitation in Brazil is a long-term challenge and in large urban centres like São Paulo, a metropole home to more than 21 mio. people, overpopulation brings problems such as scarcity of quality water resources and pollution of the existing streams. Recent years’ hike in electricity prices are further pressuring the water utilities, who see an urgency in becoming more efficient in the use of existing resources and transforming waste streams into resources to guarantee sustainability. Moreover, in a mega city like São Paulo, handling sludge has become an increased problem with stricter legislation on its disposal, and high transport costs related to moving the sludge from the WWTPs to landfills located in some cases more than 40 kilometers away from the mega city.
In this context converting biomass from sludge into energy, heat and electricity, has caught the attention of the management and technology officers at the Brazilian utilities.
THE BARUERI W2E PROJECT
With more than 20 mio. people served, São Paulo based Sabesp is Brazil’s largest water utility. The company is listed in the New York Stock Exchange and a strong focus on energy optimization with CEO Dr. Kelman coming from the energy sector. These months, Sabesp is studying how to outsource the sludge from the WWTP Barueri, to a privately run operator. For this reason Sabesp called upon input from the Brazilian society and international players in a pre-phase leading up to a potential tender.
With the Barueri project, Sabesp is looking to create a Specific Purpose Company (SPC) through a public bid open to international actors with the scope to:
- give correct treatment and final destination of 500 tons/day of dewatered sludge from the existing plant.
- receive 50,000 Nm3/day of Biogas (initially) from the existing bio digesters and produce heat & electricity to be used on-site.
A Biogas and Sludge Treatment Plant (EPBL) will be built to receive both processes and the SPC will be remunerated according to the amount of sludge treated. The SPE will have the rights to commercially explore the energy potential of the sludge and other effluents of the treatment plant (see the picture below).
Possible solutions for the sludge are dryage to be transported and used as fuel in Cement or Paper industry furnaces, incineration on-site or landifilling (least preferable).
Danish companies and institutions have an extensive know-how within W2E in the sanitation sector and could provide world leading technologies and desing either as an integrated solution or individually as suppliers to other proponents.
PEER-2-PEER COOPERATION BETWEEN SABESP AND BIOFOS
On the occasion of his visit to Latin America’s biggest water utility fair, Fenasan, in August last year, the former Danish Minister for Business and Growth, Troels Lund Poulsen, extended an invitation to Sabesp’s CEO, Jerson Kelman, to study Danish W2E solutions.
Accepting the minister’s invitation, Dr. Kelman visited Lynetten’s WWTP Plant where he saw how its operation and technology could provide valuable input for SABESP in the Barueri project. This way, a peer-2-peer collaboration between Sabesp and BIOFOS was established, and, in November, Biofos’ Technical Director, Jens Prisum, and Business Development Manager, Dines Thornberg, visited SABESP to understand the Brazilian context and give workshops in Danish solutions for Waste-to-Energy from sludge and wastewater treatment.
By Rafael Arosa