A new report from Global Water Intelligence (GWI) investigates the transforming sludge management market. Municipal sludge treatment is on the rise and attracting a widening portfolio of specialist technologies. More wastewater treatment, tightening regulations and green incentives make it a good, if heavily regional, market. GWI’s new report on sludge management showcases opportunities in this growth market.
The wastewater treatment industry is effectively a sludge generation industry. If the wastewater from the world’s urban population were to be collected and treated, the sludge generated would rise from 75 million tons in 2012 to 83 million by 2017—before industrial development is even taken into account.
A new report on sludge management from GWI explains that the increased sludge production volumes are driving the wastewater treatment industry to implement new sludge management processes. GWI explains that municipal sludge treatment is on the agenda due to limited land space, tightening regulations across the globe and health concerns. Safely treating municipal sludge is a big business, worth an estimated $7.3 billion in 2012.
The wastewater treatment industry is seeking alternative disposal options that enable them to handle their sludge more safely and cost effectively. The fundamental driver behind sludge management is to treat the sludge in a way that will reduce its volume. The smaller the volume, the lower the costs associated with transportation and disposal. Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operators must also consider the large energy input needed to treat sludge, and for this reason, high energy costs and subsidies for renewable energy are likely to make energy recovery options increasingly attractive going forward.
To meet these needs, operators will inevitably have to increase their investments in sludge stabilization technologies, particularly anaerobic digestion (AD). AD both decreases the volume and increases the quality of the treated sludge. Also, the biogas produced as a byproduct of AD can partially offset the cost of the energy needed to run the plant.
The global municipal sludge equipment market is set to grow by 5.7% by 2017—from $7.1 billion in 2011 to $9.9 billion in 2017. The strongest growth will be in anaerobic digestion, which is set to reach a value of $1.3 billion by 2017. Thickening and dewatering technologies will remain the largest investment area, reaching a value of $3.1 billion in 2017.
The report was released on Dec. 6, 2012 and can be purchased for $3,500. To order the report visit www.globalwaterintel.com/sludge-management.