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From sludge to cement
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08:55, March 10, 2009

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A plant capable of treating more than 60 percent of the city's sewage sludge, the smelly remainder after wastewater is disposed of, went into operation yesterday.

The firm, Guangzhou Heidelberg Yuexiu Cement Co Ltd, will be able to handle 600 tons of the sludge every day in a smell-free way.

Guangzhou produces about 950 tons of sludge a day at present. The figure is expected to reach 2,425 tons next year and 3,120 tons in 2020.

The firm, a joint venture between Hong Kong-based Yuexiu Group and the global leader, Heidelberg Cement in Germany, will treat the sludge, turning it into raw materials and alternative fuels for cement manufacturing in the process, with no extra emission or ash.

"Sewage sludge has seen a surge in tandem with the city's efforts to dispose of wastewater," said Ran Shende, deputy secretary-general of the municipal government of Guangzhou. "The project may help Guangzhou solve the perplexing problem of sludge step by step and may even set an example for other domestic cities to follow."

"In producing cement kilns sewage sludge can be recycled and become the fuel," said Zhang Zhaoxing, general manager of Yuexiu Group, adding that the project well integrates the cement industry with environmental protection industry.

The project, with an initial investment of over 70 million yuan ($10.2 million), is a key R&D project of the technology and equipment for industrial and municipal waste treatment of Guangzhou as well as a critical Sino-German technological cooperation project in industrial and environmental protection.

Eberhard Schuppius, German consul general in Guangzhou, pinned high hopes on the project, saying it was remarkable in many ways, would benefit all parties involved and could become a good example of sustainable sludge treatment and energy efficiency in cement production.

"Many European countries and Japan have gained rich experience in using cement kilns for handling sewage sludge, the measure can be economically, ecologically and socially good," said Liu Ming, a division chief of the National Development and Reform Commission's industrial department. "The experience is worth promoting in other big cities."

"Years of efforts to dispose of wastewater led to a surge in sludge, posing a threat to China's environment," Liu said.

Sewage sludge is mostly used in landfill, dried to make bricks or turned into agricultural compost in many cities. The foul smell emitted during the process and the possibility of pollution are often found annoying by citizens.

Source: China Daily

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