Fast Catalytic Pyrolysis of Sewage Sludge for Producing High-Grade Bio-Oil and Effective Sorbent for Capturing Emerging Contaminants

Large amounts of sewage sludge (SS) have been generated yearly by municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWPs), which entail huge operational expenses and advanced treatments, and the final disposal of biosolids in agricultural applications is reduced because of the potential environmental risks (e.g., heavy metals and emerging contaminants) associated with biosolids applications. The increased use of certain medications (e.g., antibiotics, disinfectants) and personal care products (e.g., sanitizers, soaps) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, will certainly increase the concentration of emerging contaminants in wastewater. Converting SS to effective sorbent and improving the quality of bio-oil, the by-product of the process, achieving environmental sustainability. This proposed research focuses on our novel integrated approach to co-produce effective sorbent (sludge-based activated carbon “SBAC”) and high-quality bio-oil through catalytic fast pyrolysis of sewage sludge. The cost-effectiveness and environmental impacts of the integrated system will be assessed through life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) analyses. Effectiveness of SBACs will be tested using wastewater and stormwater. Immediate benefit is to enhance the quality of urban water impacted by the pandemic COVID-19. This work has significant contribution in protecting our environment and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels by utilizing bio-oil from this process.

Faculty Supervisor:

Loretta Li


Badr Ali Mohamed


Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd.


Engineering - civil


Professional, scientific and technical services


University of British Columbia



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