Abstract

U.S. sewage sludges were analyzed for 58 regulated and nonregulated elements by ICP-MS and electron microscopy to explore opportunities for removal and recovery. Sludge/water distribution coefficients (K<inf>D</inf>, L/kg dry weight) spanned 5 orders of magnitude, indicating significant metal accumulation in biosolids. Rare-earth elements and minor metals (Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu) detected in sludges showed enrichment factors (EFs) near unity, suggesting dust or soils as likely dominant sources. In contrast, most platinum group elements (i.e., Ru, Rh, Pd, Pt) showed high EF and K<inf>D</inf> values, indicating anthropogenic sources. Numerous metallic and metal oxide colloids (<100-500 nm diameter) were detected; the morphology of abundant aggregates of primary particles measuring <100 nm provided clues to their origin. For a community of 1 million people, metals in biosolids were valued at up to US$13 million annually. A model incorporating a parameter (K<inf>D</inf> × EF × $Value) to capture the relative potential for economic value from biosolids revealed the identity of the 13 most lucrative elements (Ag, Cu, Au, P, Fe, Pd, Mn, Zn, Ir, Al, Cd, Ti, Ga, and Cr) with a combined value of US $280/ton of sludge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9479-9488
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume49
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 12 2015

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Sewage sludge
valuation
Wastewater treatment
Biosolids
Metals
sludge
biosolid
Recovery
metal
Colloids
platinum group element
anthropogenic source
colloid
Platinum
Rare earth elements
electron microscopy
Oxides
Electron microscopy
Dust
rare earth element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

@article{70b1ee4ac575412d96aa0f983ead475b,
title = "Characterization, Recovery Opportunities, and Valuation of Metals in Municipal Sludges from U.S. Wastewater Treatment Plants Nationwide",
abstract = "U.S. sewage sludges were analyzed for 58 regulated and nonregulated elements by ICP-MS and electron microscopy to explore opportunities for removal and recovery. Sludge/water distribution coefficients (KD, L/kg dry weight) spanned 5 orders of magnitude, indicating significant metal accumulation in biosolids. Rare-earth elements and minor metals (Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu) detected in sludges showed enrichment factors (EFs) near unity, suggesting dust or soils as likely dominant sources. In contrast, most platinum group elements (i.e., Ru, Rh, Pd, Pt) showed high EF and KD values, indicating anthropogenic sources. Numerous metallic and metal oxide colloids (<100-500 nm diameter) were detected; the morphology of abundant aggregates of primary particles measuring <100 nm provided clues to their origin. For a community of 1 million people, metals in biosolids were valued at up to US$13 million annually. A model incorporating a parameter (KD × EF × $Value) to capture the relative potential for economic value from biosolids revealed the identity of the 13 most lucrative elements (Ag, Cu, Au, P, Fe, Pd, Mn, Zn, Ir, Al, Cd, Ti, Ga, and Cr) with a combined value of US $280/ton of sludge.",
author = "Paul Westerhoff and Sungyun Lee and Yu Yang and Gwyneth Gordon and Kiril Hristovski and Rolf Halden and Pierre Herckes",
year = "2015",
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T1 - Characterization, Recovery Opportunities, and Valuation of Metals in Municipal Sludges from U.S. Wastewater Treatment Plants Nationwide

AU - Westerhoff, Paul

AU - Lee, Sungyun

AU - Yang, Yu

AU - Gordon, Gwyneth

AU - Hristovski, Kiril

AU - Halden, Rolf

AU - Herckes, Pierre

PY - 2015/1/12

Y1 - 2015/1/12

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