Resource Recovery

Valuable resources can be recovered from a wastewater stream, such as clean water for reuse, energy in the form of biogas (through anaerobic sludge digestion – generating biogas which can be converted to energy), fertilizers and valuable metals.

Resource Recovery Solutions

According to the Water Environment Federation (WEF), wastewater treatment plants are not waste disposal facilities, but rather water resource recovery facilities that produce clean water and recover nutrients, metals and other valuable resources. This can be achieved using the following processes depending on the type of wastewater:

  • Using biodegradable organic materials – Anaerobic digestion forms biogas which can be used to generate energy. The biogas can also be separated into its various components to create biomethane for use as a vehicle fuel and carbon dioxide which is a valuable raw material for the beverage industry
  • Using inorganic materials – Metals such as iron, manganese, nickel and copper can be recovered from wastewater or sludges by chemical precipitation. Various technologies can be used for recovering resources from inorganic wastewater streams
  • Clarification – separates suspended and precipitated metals from the wastewater
  • Sludge dewatering – filters and centrifuges are used to dewater sludges containing valuable resources
  • Reverse osmosis – for recovering “clean” water for reuse and concentrating up streams containing valuable resources
  • Thermal evaporation – for recovering “clean water” for reuse and for concentrating up streams for further processing or for recycle back to the production facility
  • Ion exchange technology – special ion exchange resins are used for recovering valuable metals from wastewater streams

Resource Recovery Concept

Resource Recovery Benefits

Large financial benefits if precious metals or other valuable resources can be recovered

Cost and water savings if water is reused in production facilities

Enhanced corporate governance by industries becoming more environmentally compliant

Reduction in municipality discharge tariffs which can become very expensive

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