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Title: Microwaving human faecal sludge as a viable sanitation technology option for treatment and value recovery
Authors: Afolabi, Oluwasola O.D.
Sohail (Khan), M.
Keywords: Human faecal sludge
Waste management
Resource recovery
Low- and middle-income countries
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: © Elsevier
Citation: AFOLABI, O.O.D. and SOHAIL, M., 2017. Microwaving human faecal sludge as a viable sanitation technology option for treatment and value recovery. Journal of Environmental Management, 187, pp.401-415.
Abstract: The prolonged challenges and terrible consequences of poor sanitation, especially in developing economies, call for the exploration of new sustainable sanitation technologies. Such technologies must be: capable of effectively treating human faecal wastes without any health or environmental impacts; scalable to address rapid increases in population and urbanization; capable of meeting environmental regulations and standards for faecal management; and competitive with existing strategies. Further and importantly, despite its noxiousness and pathogenic load, the chemical composition of human faecal sludge indicates that it could be considered a potentially valuable, nutrient-rich renewable resource, rather than a problematic waste product. New approaches to faecal sludge management must consequently seek to incorporate a ‘valuable resource recovery’ approach, compatible with stringent treatment requirements. This review intends to advance the understanding of human faecal sludge as a sustainable organic-rich resource that is typically high in moisture (up to 97 per cent), making it a suitable candidate for dielectric heating, i.e. microwave irradiation, to promote faecal treatment, while also recovering value-added products such as ammonia liquor concentrate (suitable for fertilizers) and chars (suitable for fuel) – which can provide an economic base to sustain the technology. Additionally, microwaving human faecal sludge represents a thermally effective approach that can destroy pathogens, eradicate the foul odour associated human faecal sludge, while also preventing hazardous product formations and/or emissions, aside from other benefits such as improved dewaterability and heavy metals recovery. Key technological parameters crucial for scaling the technology as a complementary solution to the challenges of onsite sanitation are also discussed.
Description: This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Environmental Management and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.10.067.
Sponsor: This research was supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle WA in the ‘Reinvent the Toilet Project’.
Version: Accepted
DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.10.067
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/23288
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.10.067
ISSN: 1095-8630
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering)
Published Articles (WEDC)

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