Microbiological analyses on municipal sewage sludge sample treated in a pilot plant process utilizing an electron accelerator with a beam energy of 3 MeV were conducted as a way to show the potential of this technology to decontaminate sludge containing 15% solids. Bacterial counts including total heterotrophic bacterial, total coliform, and fecal coliform counts were performed on sewage sludge samples pre- and postirradiation with the electron beam at doses ranging between 2.7 and 30.7 kGy. At each irradiation dose, bacterial and Ascaris ova counts and survival were measured in triplicate as colony forming units (CFUs) per milliliter (ml) of sewage sludge. Experimental results obtained revealed that a dose of 6.7 kGy is enough to reduce bacterial load to consider the treated sewage sludge safe for both the environment and human according to the Environmental Protection Agency standards. However, a dose of 25.7 kGy was needed to reduce the concentration of Ascaris ova at levels deemed safe for land applications. This study also showed that electron beam treatment is less energy consuming with shorter processing times than conventional techniques used to decontaminate sludge. Taken altogether, these observations open new avenues for large urban agglomerations to save money on sewage sludge treatment.
Part of the book: Radiation Effects in Materials
A review of the current status of sewage sludge decontamination using electron beam irradiation at industrial scale is presented. The chapter includes a historical development of the technology using both gamma and electron beam sources, a description of a facility using an electron accelerator, a discussion of the quality control techniques used to certify that satisfactory decontamination levels for safe use of treated sludge have been achieved, the effect of electron beam irradiation on the bacteria and virus present in a typical sample of municipal sewage sludge, and an analysis of the costs of decontaminating sewage sludge using electron beam irradiation compared to traditional and more routine technologies. Finally, the chapter concludes by emphasizing on the fact that electron accelerators described in this chapter are capable to decontaminate a typical municipal sewage sludge at competitive costs which are shown to be comparable and/or lower than routinely used technologies to achieve class A biosolids by the Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Part of the book: Sewage