Energy potential of biogas and sludge from UASB reactors in the State of Paraná, Brazil
Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) reactors are widely used for domestic sewage treatment in Brazil, and generate sludge and biogas as by-products. Typically, the sludge is sent to sanitary landfills, and the biogas is burned in flares. This study assessed the energy potential of these by-products in sewage treatment plants (STPs) located in the state of Paraná, Brazil. First, an overview of biogas energy recovery potential in a full-scale STP based on UASB reactors was carried out. Afterwards, a total of 239 STPs in the state of Paraná were assessed, and the energy potential of the by-products was estimated by a mathematical model. Data were spatially classified using ArcGIS®, taking into account the different effluent characteristics (worst, typical and best scenario), sludge dehydration systems (drying bed and centrifuge) and sizes (small, medium and large). Among the states in Brazil, Paraná presented the highest biogas potential, although nowadays it exploits only 0.4% of its capacity. Biogas was the main by-product generated by UASB reactors in Paraná, and if used in the entire state, it could supply the energy demands of a city with 111,000 inhabitants. Biogas corresponded to 65, 64 and 74% of the total potential (sludge and biogas) for small, medium and large STPs, respectively. The study of the energy potential of the by-products associated with GIS tools positively contributes to the decision-making process in sanitation management and to improve energy sustainability.
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