This work is intended to evaluate the technical, environmental, and economic feasibility of converting the sludge produced at an industrial estate’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Oman into energy through anaerobic digestion (AD). In this study, three different scenarios were analyzed. They concerned the digestion of the total amount of the produced sludge alone (240 m3 day-1) (scenario 1), and its co-digestion with wet agri-food wastes (AFW) at rates of two tonnes day-1 (scenario 2) and ten tonnes day-1 (scenario 3). Based on the analyses of sludge samples, an intensive literature review regarding sludge and AFW Physico-chemical and energetic characteristics and the use of the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) approach, it was found that, for the overall duration of the project (20 years), the AD of the sludge alone (scenario 1) permitted the production of 43.9 GWh of electricity, the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (more than 37,000 tonnes equivalent CO2 (TCO2)) and exhibited positive net present value (NPV: $393,483) and an internal return rate (IRR) of 19.4%. Co-digesting sludge with AFW significantly increased all of these key performance indicators. For instance, scenario 3 results in the recovery of electrical energy of 82.2 GWh and avoids the emission of 70,602 tCO2. Moreover, a higher NPV and IRR of $851,876 and 21.8%, respectively, and a payback period (PBP) of only seven years were calculated. The sensitivity analysis revealed that a decrease in total expenses by 15% results in a significant increase of the NPV and the IRR to $1,418,704 and 33.9%, respectively, for scenario 3. Considering a pessimistic assumption (an increase of the total expenses by 15%), all studied scenarios remain attractive. For instance, for scenario 3, the NPV, IRR, and PBP were evaluated to $285,047, 13.5%, and 9 years, respectively. Therefore, the co-digestion of sludge with agri-food wastes for energy recovery purposes could be considered a promising, eco-friendly, and economically viable approach in the Omani industrial estates.
- Agri-food wastes
- Feasibility study
- Greenhouse gas emission
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law