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Roberto Belli, Lorena Guglielmi

INDAGINE SUI RECUPERI DI RISORSE (MATERIA ED ENERGIA) NEGLI IMPIANTI DI DEPURAZIONE IN ITALIA

SURVEY ON RESOURCE RECOVERY PRACTICES IN ITALIAN WWTPS

The results of a national survey on energy and material resource recovery practices in municipal wastewater treatment plants are presented in this paper. The aim of this investigation was to define the “state of the art” on technological and operation practices adopted in Italian WWTPs for achieving the recovery of valuable products or the production of energy. The survey was conducted by sending a questionnaire to numerous waste water treatment plant management companies. In the questionnaire, 34 options for material resources and energy recovery that can be applied both on wastewater and sludge treatment processes have been considered. The list includes both conventional and innovative systems. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first survey in Italy on a large number of WWTPs (627), treating, as a whole, about 18,000,000 PE (population equivalent), which corresponds to more than 20% of the total organic load in Italy. 
Despite the sample of plants is consists mainly of small-medium size facilities, there is a consistent number (36) of plants with a capacity > 100,000 PE. In greater detail the objectives were: i) to offer a real picture of the current situation related to the resource recovery in WWTPs, ii) to underline the critical aspects and limitations of potential alternatives and iii) to highlight areas for improvements, as a baseline for future developments towards more sustainable WWTPs.
As the main outcomes of the survey, it turned out that the most applied options focus on material recovery or energy production from surplus sludge treatment, together with internal reuse of treated effluents. However, the results showed that resource recovery in Italian WWTPs is not yet widespread: only 35% of the investigated plants applies at least one of the listed recovery options. In particular, the absence of any recovery practice is common in small to medium installations (<10,000 PE) but also occurs in some large systems (>100,000 PE).

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