Madrid fires up thermal sludge drying operations

Centralised sludge treatment in Madrid, Spain, will employ two sludge-drying plants fuelled 100% by cogeneration exhaust gas flow to meet European Union regulations.

Th 96156

By Mark Kragting

Th 96156
Sludge data for the metropolitan area of Madrid, Spain.
Click here to enlarge image

Centralised sludge treatment in Madrid, Spain, will employ two sludge-drying plants fuelled 100% by cogeneration exhaust gas flow to meet European Union regulations.

Two major wastewater treatment plants in the metropolitan area of Madrid, Spain - Madrid-Sur and Madrid-Butarque - will meet European Union (EU) regulations for water management and sludge disposal once sludge treatment is centralised and thermal drying facilities are completed. Vandenbroek International of the Netherlands installed the two-line Vadeb Indirect Drum Dryer at the Sur plant in December 2001 and plans to start up thermal drying operations at the Butarque plant by the end of 2002. The Sur plant is in full operation.

Together, the plants' designed drying capacity serves a population of four million, equivalent to 36.5 tons of water evaporation per hour and an output of 250 tons of dry product per day. The granulated final product contains less than 10% moisture. The exhaust gas of a cogeneration plant is used for dryer heating. The cogeneration plant produces 24 mW of electric power for the Sur plant and 10mW for the Butarque plant, while the heat mass of the exhaust gas covers 100% of dryer energy needs. Both plants are designed according to strict guidelines for risk and safety control to ensure 8,000 hours per year of operation.

These two large wastewater treatment plants in addition to a number of smaller treatment facilities serve the metropolitan area population of some four million people. Each plant is responsible for its own waste sludge disposal; landfill, land-application and composting are methods currently being employed. EU regulations require sludge treatment to be centralised, using thermal drying as the key process at the two major treatment sites.

Design, construction and operation of the sludge treatment facilities are privatised to the Spanish company Sufi Sa, based in Madrid. Boremer s.a., a joint venture between Sufi s.a. and civil contractor Cadaqua s.a. , awarded the turnkey contract for two-line sludge drying facilities to Vandenbroek International for the Madrid-Sur and Madrid Butarque wastewater treatment plants.

Th 96157
Once completed, two thermal drying facilities in Madrid will serve a population of four million. Photo by: Vandenbroek International
Click here to enlarge image

Overall sludge production in the Madrid area amounts to approximately 90,000 tons of dry solids a year, which requires a total treatment capacity at the Madrid-Sur and Madrid-Butarque sites of about 11 tons/hr as dry solids, given 35 tons of water evaporation per hour.

The sludge types at Sur and Butarque are characterised by two-stage anaerobic digestion of primary and secondary sludge. Upstream of the digestion process, sludge is pre-treated with the use of rotary screens and dissolved-air-flotation. After secondary digestion, belt presses and centrifuges mechanically dewater the sludge. The wet cake has an average dry solid content of 23%.

The treatment concepts of the Sur and Butarque treatment facilities are similar. Sludge cake from small regional wastewater treatment plants is transported to the imported cake reception facilities and pumped into intermediate silos. The cake is then conveyed to two-line sludge dryers.

Both plants generate electrical power with natural gas-fuelled gas turbines (Sur) and gas engines ( Butarque). The generator-exhaust gas is the main heat supply for the drying process, covering approximately 100% of the total dryers' heat demand.

The rotating drum dryers are of the indirect convective type; the hot exhaust gases of the gas turbines (Sur) or gas engines (Butarque) transfer heat via heat exchangers to the recycled dryer gas. The dryer gas loop is nearly closed. About 10% of the gas volume passing through the drum must be taken out of the system for final treatment, which involves dedusting and chemical scrubbing.

The final product is granulated sludge, classified into two to six millimetres with a dry-solids concentration of more than 90%. Before final storage the sludge granules are cooled down to below 50°C to prevent self- heating during storage time.

The design of sludge drying plants at wastewater treatment plants in Valladolid and Leon with capacities of two to three tons of water evaporation per hour are similar. The Valladolid dryer, in operation since November 1999, operates continuously within the guaranteed performance criteria, i.e. granule size, moisture content, fuel consumption and reliability.

Author's note

Mark Kragting is the account manager for Grontmij Vandenbroek International bv, located in Driebergen, Netherlands.

More in Wastewater