Project objectives

The general objective of the LIFE FREEDOM project is to apply at demonstration level hydrothermal liquefaction as innovative and reliable technology for the treatment of sewage sludge and the production of useful materials of widespread industrial use by installing a HTL plant at an urban WWTP.
The originality of this project is represented by the positioning of this treatment system, directly connected with the equipment of the purifier. This would allow, in a future, an easy insertion within the city treatment plants, avoiding the creation of waste treatment centers, specially designed and realized, turning on site waste into useful raw materials.

The starting level of readiness of the project is TRL 6 and, at the end of the project, it is expected to reach TRL 9 (ready for marketing), ie a very close to market project. However, two aspects can beconsidered at a lower TRL (TRL5) and concern the production of phosphorus and use of the mineral fraction. Through the application of Freedom the acquired know-how will increase the TRL of these two aspects up to 8.

The specific objectives of the proposal are:

  1. to apply on a demonstration scale the effectiveness of HTL technology for the treatment of sewage sludge;
  2. to eliminate the production of waste sewage sludge;
  3. to demonstrate the feasibility of a waste management system that is truly simple and completely different from the current system;
  4. to recover the organic matter contained in the sewage sludge and transform it into liquid hydrocarbons and solid bituminous residue;
  5. to avoid the reintroduction of heavy metals, organic pollutants and microplastics into the environment
  6. to recover all water contained in dehydrated sludge, in dried organic matter;
  7. to demonstrate the economic value of the hydrocarbons produced using them as replacement for fossil asphalt and green fuel;
  8. to upcycle the mineral fraction from sludge into advance inorganic materials with diverse applications, in particular cementitious materials that reduce ecological impacts associated with Portland cement manufacture;
  9. to recover cadmium-free phosphorus, for agricultural use as fertilizer;
  10. to increase resource efficiency by introducing new types of waste in the materials circle;
  11. to favour the diffusion of HTL in other WWTP by implementation of the foreseen actions.