Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2002

Technology developed to convert
sewage into power plant fuel

TOKYO, Feb. 14 (Kyodo) - Electric Power Development Co., a semigovernmental entity, and Marubeni Corp. have developed technology for converting sewage sludge into fuel for a power generation plant, officials at the two entities said Thursday. The two plan to start the business based on the recycling technology in or after fiscal 2004, the officials said.

They plan to invite local governments to adopt the new technology with an eye to increasing annual revenues from the business to 30 billion yen after five years of operation, they said.

The cost of disposing of sewage is 20,000 yen per ton using conventional technology, but with the new technology Electric Power Development can dispose of it for 10% less, they said.

At present, sewage is treated at disposal plants where it is dehydrated and converted into sludge. Such plants across the nation annually produce 73 million tons of sewage sludge. Some of this is used as fertilizer, while about 40% is used as landfill.

The new technology involves mixing sewage sludge with used edible oil and then desiccating the mixture at high temperatures. After the process, the used edible oil is removed before the resultant sludge is mixed with coal.

Since thermal power generation plants burn fuel at 1,400 C, the new sewage sludge-based fuel does not emit much dioxin harmful to human health.

Electric Power Development and Marubeni have already tested the new fuel by teaming up with the Osaka prefectural government.

The two firms are hoping for orders from various local governments to treat sewage sludge with the new technology, and will set up special-purpose companies in various areas, they said.