Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
MOBILE SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR HEAT TREATMENT OF SLUDGE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/146635
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
There is provided a container adapted to be transported by a truck, in which container a system for sludge treatment is arranged, said system comprising: a reactor (104) for heat treatment of a sludge; a cooling arrangement (107, 114) for cooling sludge treated in the reactor (104) and preheating sludge transported from a sludge inlet (102) to the reactor (104); and a separation arrangement (118, 126) for separating cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement into a first fraction (129) and a second fraction (124), wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction (129) than in the second fraction (124), wherein the container comprises a lower floor and an upper floor provided above the lower floor to support at least part of the system and form an interspace between the lower floor and the upper floor and wherein the interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace.

Inventors:
ÖHMAN, Fredrik (Murmästargatan 41F, Gävle, SE-802 70, SE)
LUNDQVIST, Fredrik (Siltgränd 14, Ekerö, SE-178 40, SE)
ODÉN, Erik (Banvägen 19, Stocksund, SE-182 78, SE)
Application Number:
SE2017/050166
Publication Date:
August 31, 2017
Filing Date:
February 21, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
C-GREEN TECHNOLOGY AB (Teknikringen 38A, Stockholm, SE-114 28, SE)
International Classes:
C02F11/10; C10L9/08
Foreign References:
EP2942383A12015-11-11
Other References:
HANS COOL: "PYROLYSIS OF PAPER SLUDGE", 21 April 2015 (2015-04-21), XP055361482, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20170404]
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KRANSELL & WENNBORG KB (P.O. Box 27834, S Stockholm, SE-115 93, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A container adapted to be transported by a truck, in which container a system for sludge treatment is arranged, said system comprising: a reactor for heat treatment of a sludge;

a cooling arrangement for cooling sludge treated in the reactor and preheating sludge transported from a sludge inlet to the reactor; and

a separation arrangement for separating cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement into a first fraction and a second fraction, wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction,

wherein the container comprises a lower floor and an upper floor provided above the lower floor to support at least part of the system and form an interspace between the lower floor and the upper floor and

wherein the interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace.

2. The container according to claim 1, wherein a drain valve is arranged at the lower floor such that collected sludge can be drained from the interspace.

3. The container according to claim 2, wherein the lower floor is inclined towards the drain valve. 4. The container according to any one of claims 1-3, wherein the upper floor comprises an outlet through which sludge may flow to the interspace.

5. The container according to claim 4, wherein the upper floor is inclined towards the outlet.

6. The container according to any one of claims 4-5, wherein the outlet is a grating.

7. The container according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the volume of the interspace is larger than the volume of the reactor.

8. The container according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the volume of the interspace is larger than the combined volume of the reactor and the separation arrangement.

9. The container according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the average height of the interspace is 0.1-0.8 m, such as 0.2-0.6 m.

10. The container according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the reactor comprises an electrical heating arrangement.

11. The container according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the cooling arrangement comprises:

a flashing arrangement for cooling sludge treated in the reactor and providing at least one steam fraction; and

a steam routing arrangement capable of routing the at least one steam fraction from the flashing arrangement to preheat sludge transported from the sludge inlet to the reactor. 12. A method of sludge treatment, which method is carried out in a container and comprises:

preheating a sludge to obtain a preheated sludge;

further heating the preheated sludge to temperature of 150-250 °C to obtain a heat-treated sludge;

cooling the heat-treated sludge to obtain heat for the preheating and a cooled sludge; separating the cooled sludge into a first fraction and a second fraction, wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction,

wherein the container comprises a lower floor and an upper floor provided above the lower floor to support equipment used in the method and form an interspace between the lower floor and the upper floor and

wherein the interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace.

Description:
MOBILE SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR HEAT TREATMENT OF SLUDGE

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to the field of sludge treatment. BACKGROUND

Sludge is what remains after wastewater treatment in municipal and industrial treatment plants. Municipal plants treat wastewater from cities while industrial wastewater treatment plants treat water effluents from e.g. pulp and paper mills. The wastewater treatment process technologies are principally the same but include specific solutions depending on e.g. influent to be treated, basic design, local prerequisites and environmental concerns. In larger plants in Sweden, the wastewater treatment process often comprises mechanical pretreatment followed by primary (settling) and secondary (aerobic) treatment steps. In some cases tertiary treatment is also applied to remove remaining problematic substances in treated water. In smaller plants one or more of these stages is/ are often omitted.

All plants in use generate sludge that needs to be handled. The sludge is either taken out directly from the plant after dewatering (aerobic sludge) or first treated anaerobically for biogas production where part of the sludge is digested and the remainder is taken out as anaerobic sludge.

The exact composition of the sludge depends on the composition of the wastewater influent and the type of wastewater treatment plant. Sludge with high concentrations of organic and/ or biological components is generally difficult to dewater. The water content is so high that net heating value if incinerated in a power plant is very low or even negative. Additional problems are various contaminants and pathogens, which limits the usability of the sludge in other applications.

There are several options for sludge handling today, depending on national legislation. Sludge can be landfilled, either directly or after anaerobic treatment. Agricultural applications are common where the sludge is used as fertilizer on farmland either directly or after composting where the sludge is hygienized. Incineration of the sludge is in use in several countries either directly or after drying.

The current sludge handling is costly (up to 50% of the total operating costs for a municipal wastewater treatment plant), requires large surface areas for sludge composting and hygienization and does not utilize the energy value of the sludge since it is too wet to combust efficiently without previous energy- intensive drying. It has a negative impact on the environment due to transports of large volumes of water, land-use, risks for heavy metal and organic toxin release and emissions of the strong greenhouse gas methane. From 1960's and onwards, the Porteous process and other similar processes for heat-treating sludge to improve dewatering properties under

hydrothermal carbonization conditions have been developed. Other methods, i.e. Veolia's "Exelys" and the Cambi process utilize heat treatment before anaerobic treatment of the sludge to improve the biogas yield. These processes use lower temperatures than in hydrothermal carbonization. There are also other heat treatment methods that utilize sub-critical and supercritical (SCWO) processes.

SUMMARY

The present inventors have realized that handling of the sludge from wastewater treatment plants have been inefficient, costly and

environmentally questionable. For example, sludge from Swedish municipal wastewater treatment plants have been transported to northern Sweden and dumped into abandoned underground mines. Due to the high water content of the sludge, the costs and environmental impact of such handling are extensive. Further, the sludge from waste water treatment plants (including aerobic and anaerobic sludge) often contains pathogens and problematic metals and can possess pharmaceutical activity, which restricts utilization in agriculture and soil-improvement applications.

The present inventors have noted that the prior art processes for heat- treatment of the sludge were associated with a number of significant problems, such as technology for heating, plugging of heat exchangers, corrosion and return of refractory organic substances to the wastewater treatment plant. For example, most of the earlier Porteous processes were closed down due to technical and economical reasons. The technical solutions and material selections were not optimal under the conditions prevailing at that time. Further, the prior art heat-treatment processes were carried out in large plants built within the wastewater treatment plants.

In the prior art methods based on sub-critical and super-critical (SCWO) conditions, oxygen is added to destroy the organic material, which results in that the heat value cannot be recovered in solid fuel. Oxygen can be supplied either from a dedicated oxygen plant or via air; both procedures however add capital and operating costs.

It is thus an object of the present disclosure to improve the handling of sludge from sewage treatment plants.

The present disclosure is based on a number of insights. Firstly, the inventors have found that the sludge can be further treated with a process comprising heating, not only to reduce the need for transport, but also to hygienize the sludge, reduce the activity of problematic compounds and provide valuable products, such as a fuel and a product having fertilizer value. Secondly, the inventors have realized that instead of adding further equipment inside the sewage treatment plant, the equipment for the further treatment of the sludge can, if designed properly, be arranged in a

transportable container. The installation of the equipment can thus avoid civil costs and be standardized, which significantly reduces the cost compared to a customized installation inside the plant. Transport of the equipment to the sewage treatment site is also highly efficient when it is arranged in a container that is adapted to be loaded on and off a truck.

Thirdly, the inventors have realized that once the format of a container has been selected, certain adaptations need to be made. For example, regulations normally require a container with process equipment for sludge treatment to be embanked to prevent any leaked or spilled sludge and odor from spreading. Such an embankment is costly and significantly increases the area effectively occupied by the container. In other words, the embankment requirements render the container concept less versatile and thus less commercially attractive. The inventors have realized that the provision of two layers of floor, between which substantial amounts of leaked sludge can be collected, in the container avoids or at least significantly reduces the need for embankment. Further, electrical heating is preferred for capital and safety reasons when the heat treatment is carried out in a transportable container. This is because steam, which is normally considered to be the most economical heat source in industrial processes, is normally not available at a wastewater treatment site and it is often impractical to install a steam boiler, feed-water treatment system and a fuel system in the container. The concept of the present disclosure is however not dependent on electrical heating. Installing a steam boiler in the container or relying on a steam supply from an external source are also conceivable heating options.

The following itemized listing of embodiments of the present disclosure is thus provided. 1. A container adapted to be transported by a truck, in which container a system for sludge treatment is arranged, said system comprising: a reactor for heat treatment of a sludge; a cooling arrangement for cooling sludge treated in the reactor and preheating sludge transported from a sludge inlet to the reactor; and a separation arrangement for separating cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement into a first fraction and a second fraction, wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction, wherein the container comprises a lower floor and an upper floor provided above the lower floor to support at least part of the system and form an interspace between the lower floor and the upper floor and wherein the interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace.

2. The container according to item l, wherein a drain valve is arranged at the lower floor such that collected sludge can be drained from the interspace. 3. The container according to item 2, wherein the lower floor is inclined towards the drain valve.

4. The container according to any one of items 1-3, wherein the upper floor comprises an outlet through which sludge may flow to the interspace.

5. The container according to item 4, wherein the upper floor is inclined towards the outlet.

6. The container according to any one of items 4-5, wherein the outlet is a grating.

7. The container according to item 6, wherein the grating constitutes a central portion of the upper floor. 8. The container according to item 6 or 7, wherein the area of the grating is 1-50 %, such as 5-50 %, such as 5-40 %, such as 10-40 %, of the total area of the upper floor.

9. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the volume of the interspace is larger than the volume of the reactor. 10. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the volume of the interspace is larger than the combined volume of the reactor and the separation arrangement. 11. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the average height of the interspace is 0.1-0.8 m, such as 0.2-0.6 m.

12. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the reactor comprises an electrical heating arrangement.

13. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the cooling arrangement comprises:

a flashing arrangement for cooling sludge treated in the reactor and providing at least one steam fraction; and

a steam routing arrangement capable of routing the at least one steam fraction from the flashing arrangement to preheat sludge transported from the sludge inlet to the reactor.

14. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the reactor comprises at least one outlet connected to the cooling arrangement and at least one recirculation conduit.

15. The container according to items 12 and 14, wherein the electrical heating arrangement is arranged on the at least one recirculation conduit.

16. The container according to item 14 or 15, wherein the reactor is adapted to provide an outlet fraction for leaving the reactor through the at least one outlet connected to the cooling arrangement and a recirculation fraction for recirculation in the recirculation conduit and wherein the average particle size is larger in the outlet fraction than in the recirculation fraction. 17. The container according to item 16, wherein the reactor is vertical and an outlet for the recirculation conduit is arranged above the at least one outlet connected to the cooling arrangement. 18. The container according to item 17, wherein the reactor comprises: a reactor inlet arranged at the top of the reactor; a first channel extending downwardly from the reactor inlet for guiding sludge from the inlet to a bottom section of the reactor; and a second channel extending upwardly from the bottom section to the outlet for the recirculation conduit, which second channel is separated from the first channel by at least one wall.

19. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the cooling arrangement comprises the flashing arrangement and the steam routing arrangement according to item 13 and the flashing arrangement comprises a least one flash tank, each flash tank comprising a steam outlet connected to the steam routing arrangement.

20. The container according to item 19, wherein the flashing arrangement comprises at least two flash tanks arranged in series to provide steam fractions of different pressures.

21. The container according to item 20, wherein the flashing arrangement comprises at least three flash tanks arranged in series to provide steam fractions of different pressures.

22. The container according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the separation arrangement comprises a settling arrangement, such as a settling tank, for separating the cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement into a clear fraction and a sediment fraction, which settling arrangement is arranged downstream the flashing arrangement.

23. The container according to item 22, wherein the separation

arrangement further comprises a filter, such as a membrane, arranged downstream the settling arrangement for separating the clear fraction into a filtrate and a retentate.

24. The container according to item 23, further comprising a conduit for recirculating the retentate to the sludge transported from the sludge inlet to the reactor.

25. The container according to item 23 or 24, further comprising a heat exchanger arranged to transfer heat from the filtrate to the sludge from the sludge inlet.

26. The container according to anyone of items 22-25, further comprising a sediment separation unit, such as a filter press, arranged downstream the settling arrangement for separating the sediment fraction into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction.

27. The container according to item 26, further comprising a conduit for merging at least part of the liquid fraction from the sediment separation unit with the clear fraction from the settling arrangement. 28. The container according to item 27 in combination with any one of items 23-25, wherein the liquid fraction from the sediment separation unit and the clear fraction from the settling arrangement are merged upstream the filter. 29. The container according to anyone of items 26-28, further comprising a conduit for merging at least part of the liquid fraction from the sediment separation unit with the sediment fraction from the settling arrangement. 30. The system according to any one of the preceding items, further comprising a phosphorous separation unit for separating phosphorous from the first fraction, the sediment fraction or the solids fraction. 31. A method of sludge treatment, which method is carried out in a container and comprises: preheating a sludge to obtain a preheated sludge; further heating the preheated sludge to temperature of 150-250 °C to obtain a heat-treated sludge; cooling the heat-treated sludge to obtain heat for the preheating and a cooled sludge; separating the cooled sludge into a first fraction and a second fraction, wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction, wherein the container comprises a lower floor and an upper floor provided above the lower floor to support equipment used in the method and form an interspace between the lower floor and the upper floor and wherein the interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace.

32. The method of item 31 wherein the sludge is preheated with at least one steam fraction in the preheating step and the cooling step comprises flash cooling to obtain the at least one steam fraction. 33. The method of item 31 or 32, wherein the preheated sludge is heated to a temperature of 150-220 °C, 170-250 °C or 170-240 °C.

34. The method of any one of items 31-33, wherein the preheated sludge is further heated in a reactor in which the sludge is separated into a recirculation fraction that is recirculated to the reactor and an outlet fraction that is subjected to said cooling and wherein the average particle size is larger in the outlet fraction than in the recirculation fraction. 35. The method of item 34, wherein the separation is involves fluidization or sedimentation of particles in the reactor.

36. The method of item 35, wherein the reactor is a vertical reactor and the sludge is fed to an inlet at the top of the reactor and guided downwardly through a first channel in the reactor and then upwardly through a second channel in the reactor and wherein the recirculation fraction is withdrawn from the reactor at a position that is located higher up in the second channel than a position at which the outlet fraction is withdrawn. 37. The method of any one of items 31-36, wherein at least two, such as at least three steam fractions of different temperatures are obtained in a flash cooling according to item 32 and used sequentially in the preheating such that the sludge is first preheated with the steam fraction of the lowest temperature.

38. The method of any one of items 31-37, wherein the separation of the cooled sludge involves settling to obtain a clear fraction and a sediment fraction. 39. The method according to item 38, wherein the clear fraction is subjected to filtering, such as membrane filtering, to obtain a filtrate and a retentate.

40. The method according to item 39, wherein the retentate is recirculated such that it is combined with the sludge and heat-treated. 41. The method according to item 39 or 40, wherein heat is exchanged between the filtrate and the sludge upstream of the preheating.

42. The method according to any one of items 38-41, wherein the sediment fraction is separated into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction, preferably by means of a filter press.

43. The method according to item 42, further comprising merging at least part of the liquid fraction with the clear fraction from the settling.

44. The method according to item 43, wherein the at least part of the liquid fraction and the clear fraction are merged upstream the filtering.

45. The method according to anyone of items 42-44, wherein at least part of the liquid fraction is merged with the sediment fraction.

46. The method according to any one of items 31-45, further comprising separation of phosphorus from the first fraction, the sediment fraction or the solids fraction. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Fig 1 is a simplified scheme of an embodiment of a container according to the present disclosure comprising a flashing arrangement and a settling tank.

Fig 2 is a simplified scheme of another embodiment of a container according to the present disclosure comprising an arrangement for indirect heat exchange and a settling tank.

Fig 3 is a simplified scheme of another embodiment of a container according to the present disclosure comprising a flashing arrangement and a separation arrangement without a settling tank.

Fig 4 illustrates an embodiment of a vertical reactor for heat treatment of sludge. Fig 5 is a simplified top view of the upper floor of an embodiment of container of the present disclosure.

Fig 6 is a simplified longitudinal section view of an embodiment of a container of the present disclosure. Fig 7 is a simplified cross section view of an embodiment of a container of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The sludge of the present disclosure may be obtained from municipal or industrial wastewater treatment plants. Accordingly, the sludge of the present disclosure maybe municipal sludge or industrial sludge. Further, the sludge of the present disclosure may be anaerobic sludge or aerobic sludge.

The dry solids content (also referred to as "Total Solids") of the sludge is typically 1-35 %, such as 2-35 %, such as 3-32 %. If the sludge is anaerobic sludge, the dry solids content is normally 13-32 %. If the sludge is aerobic sludge, the dry solids content is typically 5-15 %. The ash content is typically 1-5-75 % > such as 30-50 %, of the dry weight of the sludge. The higher heating value (HHV) of the sludge is typically 3.5-21 MJ/kg, such as 6-17 MJ/kg (dry weight).

The sludge composition can vary to a great degree depending on the incoming wastewater and the treatment methods applied. Industrial sludge, e.g. from the pulp and paper industry, can have compositions that differ from municipal sludge. Further, the driving forces for treatment of the sludge can be different for industrial sludges. For example, phosphorous recovery can be less interesting in case of industrial sludge. One interesting embodiment relates to phosphorus in the sludge as the present disclosure facilitates the separation thereof. Therefore, the sludge of the present disclosure preferably comprises phosphorus (P), e.g. in an amount of 0.5-9 % of the dry weight of the sludge, such as 1-9 % of the dry weight of the sludge, such as 1.5-9 % of the dry weight of the sludge. Further, the treated sludge can be used as a fuel. Therefore, the sludge of the present disclosure preferably comprises carbon (C), e.g. in an amount of 9-46 % of the dry weight of the sludge, such as 20-46 % of the dry weight of the sludge. As a first aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a container in which a system for sludge treatment is arranged.

The container of the present disclosure is preferably adapted to be

transported by a truck. The container may be an optionally modified intermodal container (also known as an ISO container), which is a

standardized reusable steel box. Intermodal containers are normally used to store and move materials and products efficiently and securely in the global containerized intermodal freight transport system. "Intermodal" indicates that the container can be used across various modes of transport, (from ship to rail to truck) without unloading and reloading its contents. Lengths of intermodal containers, which each have a unique ISO 6346 reporting mark, vary from 8 to 56 feet (2.438 to 17.069 m), whereas heights vary from 8 feet (2.438 m) to 9 feet 6 inches (2.896 m). A typical width is 8 feet (2.438 m).

The smallest containers normally do not provide enough space for the system of the first aspect. Accordingly, the length of the container of the present disclosure is preferably 5-18 m, such as 6-18 m, such as 9-18 m. The normal height and width can be used. Accordingly, the height of the container of the present disclosure maybe 2-3 m, such as 2.4-2.9 m. Further, the width of the container of the present disclosure maybe 2-3 m, such as 2.2-2.7 m - It is however possible to widen the container to increase the available space. Therefore, the width of the container of the present disclosure may be 2-4 m, such as 2.2-3.5 m -

The container typically comprises a sludge inlet for receiving sludge. A conduit may be arranged to conduct sludge from the sludge inlet to a silo arranged in the container for collecting sludge. The system further comprises a reactor for heat treatment of the sludge. The reactor is thus arranged downstream the sludge inlet. If the silo is included, the reactor is also arranged downstream the silo. The reactor preferably comprises an electrical heating arrangement. However, it is also possible to heat the sludge in another way, such as with steam from a boiler or an external steam source.

The reactor is suitable for hydrothermal carbonization (HTC).

The system further comprises a cooling arrangement for cooling sludge treated in the reactor and preheating sludge transported from the sludge inlet to the reactor. The cooling arrangement is thus arranged downstream the reactor.

In an embodiment, the cooling arrangement comprises or consists of a flashing arrangement for cooling sludge treated in the reactor and providing at least one steam fraction. In such case, the cooling arrangement further comprises a steam routing arrangement capable of routing the at least one steam fraction from the flashing arrangement to preheat sludge transported from the sludge inlet to the reactor.

The flashing arrangement can for example comprise at least one flash tank, such as at least two flash tanks, such as at least three flash tanks. Each flash tank normally comprises a steam outlet connected to the steam routing arrangement.

In case of at least two flash tanks, the flash tanks maybe arranged in series. Accordingly, they may be arranged to provide steam fractions of different pressures. As understood from the discussion above, the system may comprise a conduit for conducting sludge from the sludge inlet or the silo to the reactor.

Accordingly, at least one pump maybe arranged on the conduit. Further, a heat exchanger for preheating the sludge maybe arranged on the conduit. The conduit preferably comprises at least one steam mixer by means of which the at least one steam fraction is mixed into the sludge. If the above- mentioned heat exchanger is included, the at least one steam mixer is/are arranged downstream the heat exchanger. The at least one steam mixer may for example be at least one venturi steam mixer or at least one mechanical re- compressor with steam nozzle mixer. The former alternative is considered to be more easily implemented in the system.

In another embodiment, the cooling arrangement for cooling sludge treated in the reactor comprises or consists of an arrangement for indirect heat exchange in which heat is transferred from the heat-treated sludge fraction to the sludge transported to the reactor without direct contact. Such an arrangement for indirect heat exchange may comprise a series of indirect heat exchangers, such as two, three or four indirect heat exchangers arranged in series. Examples of indirect heat exchangers are tubular heat exchangers and plate heat exchangers.

The system further comprises a separation arrangement for separating the cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement into a first fraction and a second fraction, wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction. The separation arrangement may for example comprise a settling

arrangement, such as a settling tank and/or a solid/liquid separation unit, such as a filter press. In addition, the separation arrangement may comprise a membrane filter arranged downstream the settling tank and/or the solid/liquid separation unit. The cut-off of the membrane filter of the present disclosure is typically 1-300 kDa and preferably 3-30 kDa, such as 5-15 kDa.

The separation in a settling arrangement according to the present disclosure is based on gravity or centrifugal motion. Equipment for such separation is well known to the skilled person. The settling arrangement according to the present disclosure may be arranged to handle pressurized heat-treated sludge and generate a pressurized clear fraction. The pressure of such a clear l6 fraction may at least partly drive a downstream membrane filtration of the clear fraction

A first configuration of the separation arrangement comprises a settling arrangement, such as a settling tank, for separating the cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement into a clear fraction and a sediment fraction. Such a settling arrangement is arranged downstream the cooling arrangement. A benefit of the settling arrangement is that sludge of relatively high

temperature and pressure can be treated in it and that the resulting clear fraction can have a pressure that facilitates a further separation operation and a temperature that facilitates energy-efficient heat-exchange with incoming sludge.

An embodiment of the first configuration comprises a filter, such as a membrane, arranged downstream the settling arrangement for separating the clear fraction into a filtrate and a retentate. The cut-off of a membrane in this position is preferably 5-15 kDa. Such an embodiment may further comprise a conduit for recirculating the retentate to the sludge transported from the sludge inlet to the reactor. It may also comprise a heat exchanger arranged to transfer heat from the filtrate to the sludge from the sludge inlet. This heat exchanger maybe the heat exchanger arranged on the conduit for preheating the sludge discussed above. A filtrate outlet connectable to the sewage treatment plant can be provided such that the filtrate can be returned.

An embodiment of the first configuration comprises a sediment separation unit, such as a filter press, arranged downstream the settling arrangement for separating the sediment fraction into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction. Such an embodiment may further comprise a conduit for merging at least part of the liquid fraction from the sediment separation unit with the clear fraction from the settling arrangement, preferably upstream the filter. High- molecular-weight organic compounds and particles of the clear fraction and the liquid fraction may thus get another chance to agglomerate in the reactor. In addition, formed refractory COD is prevented from leaving the system through the filtrate outlet. Accordingly, formed refractory COD can be prevented from reaching the wastewater treatment plant. Further, the first configuration may comprise a conduit for merging at least part of the liquid fraction from the sediment separation unit with the sediment fraction from the settling arrangement. Such a conduit may comprise a cooler to lower the temperature of the material separated in the sediment separation unit.

A second configuration of the separation arrangement comprises a solid/liquid separation unit, preferably a filter press that separates the cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction. A cooler may be arranged upstream the solid/liquid separation unit for further cooling the cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement. For example, a cooler for cooling the cooled sludge prior to the solid/liquid separation unit maybe arranged upstream the solid/liquid separation unit and downstream the flashing arrangement discussed above. Further, a conduit may be arranged to conduct the cooled sludge from the cooling arrangement to the cooler via the heat exchanger arranged on the conduit for preheating the sludge discussed above.

In the second configuration, the heat-treated sludge from the reactor may thus be cooled in three steps: first in the cooling arrangement, then in the heat exchanger arranged on the conduit for preheating the sludge and finally in the cooler.

The solid/liquid separation of the second configuration normally comprises a water inlet for washing water. A liquid fraction conduit maybe arranged to conduct the liquid fraction from the solid/liquid separation unit to a membrane filter unit for separating the liquid fraction into a filtrate and a retentate. The liquid fraction conduit may comprise a pump to drive the separation in the membrane filter unit. A retentate conduit may be arranged to recirculate the retentate such that it is combined with the sludge upstream the reactor. Further, a filtrate conduit may be arranged to conduct the filtrate from the membrane filter unit to a filtrate outlet, which maybe connectable to the sewage treatment plant such that the filtrate can be returned. l8

The reactor of the first aspect is preferably a continuous reactor. Further, the reactor may be a vertical reactor. In one embodiment, the vertical reactor extends through an opening in an upper wall of the container in an operation mode. Further, vertical reactor may be arranged such that it has a generally horizontal orientation in a transportation mode. Accordingly, the vertical reactor can be raised to penetrate the opening in the upper wall of the container on site, e.g. after transport to the site. For example, the vertical reactor may be hingedly attached to the container, e.g. to the upper floor (discussed below) of the container, to allow it to be raised from a transport position to an operation position.

In one embodiment, the reactor comprises at least one outlet connected to the cooling arrangement and at least one recirculation conduit on which the electrical heating arrangement is arranged. In such an embodiment, the reactor maybe adapted to provide an outlet fraction for leaving the reactor through the at least one outlet connected to the cooling arrangement (e.g. the flashing arrangement) and a recirculation fraction for recirculation in the recirculation conduit, wherein the average particle size is larger in the outlet fraction than in the recirculation fraction. When the reactor is vertical, this maybe achieved when an outlet for the recirculation conduit is arranged above the at least one outlet connected to the cooling arrangement. Such a vertical reactor preferably comprises a reactor inlet arranged at the top of the reactor, a first channel extending downwardly from the reactor inlet for guiding sludge from the inlet to a bottom section of the reactor and a second channel extending upwardly from the bottom section to the outlet for the recirculation conduit. The second channel is separated from the first channel by at least one wall.

In one embodiment, the reactor is the reactor described below with reference to figure 4.

The container of the first aspect comprises a lower floor and an upper floor. The material of the lower floor and/ or the upper floor is preferably steel, such as stainless steel. The upper floor is provided above the lower floor to support at least part of the system and form an interspace between the lower floor and the upper floor. The interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace. Preferably, the reactor of the first aspect is arranged in the container such that it is supported by the upper floor. Further, at least part of the cooling arrangement, such as the flash tank(s), is preferably arranged in the container such that it is supported by the upper floor. Also, at least part of the separation arrangement, such as the settling tank and/ or the filter press, is preferably arranged in the container such that it is supported by the upper floor. Other components of the system that maybe supported by the upper floor are identified in the discussion below with reference to figures 1-3.

A drain valve may be arranged at the lower floor such that collected sludge can be drained from the interspace. This drain valve is normally closed, but can be opened to empty the interspace. For example, the drain valve can be connected to a tank via a hose and a pump to empty the interspace. Such a tank is preferably arranged on a truck.

To facilitate the emptying of the interspace, the lower floor may be inclined towards the drain valve. The upper floor normally comprises an outlet through which sludge may flow to the interspace (thus creating the fluid communication between the space above the upper floor and the interspace).

To guide leaked or spilled sludge to such an outlet, the upper floor may be inclined towards the outlet. The outlet can simply be a hole in the upper floor. When a larger hole is desired, it is however preferred to cover the hole with a grating forming part of the upper floor. The grating may constitute a central portion of the upper floor. Accordingly, equipment can be installed around the grating. The area of the grating can be 1-50 %, such as 5-50 %, such as 5-40 %, such as 10-40 %, of the total area of the upper floor.

The upper floor can also comprise a plurality of holes and each of the holes can be covered by a grating. In such case, the combined area of the holes or the gratings maybe 1-50 %, such as 5-50 %, such as 5-40 %, such as 10-40 %, of the total area of the upper floor.

The volume of the interspace is preferably larger than the volume of the reactor to prevent flooding in case of severe leakage from the reactor.

More preferably, the volume of the interspace is larger than the combined volume of the reactor and the separation arrangement. In one embodiment, the volume of the interspace is larger than the combined volume of the reactor, the separation arrangement and the cooling arrangement.

The average height of the interspace may for example be 0.1-0.8 m, such as 0.2-0.6 m. The system according to the first aspect may further comprise a phosphorous separation unit for separating phosphorous from the first fraction, the sediment fraction or the solids fraction. However, such a phosphorous separation unit may also be a separate unit arranged outside the container.

As a second aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a method of sludge treatment. The method, which preferably is a continuous method, is carried out in a container.

The container comprises a lower floor and an upper floor provided above the lower floor to support equipment used in the method and form an interspace between the lower floor and the upper floor. Further, the interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace.

Various embodiments of the container in general and the two floors in particular are discussed above in connection with the first aspect. The method comprises preheating a sludge to obtain a preheated sludge. The temperature of the preheated sludge may for example be at least 90 °C, such as 90-150 °C. In one embodiment, the preheating comprises the addition of at least one steam fraction to the sludge. The at least one steam fraction is further discussed below. In another embodiment, the preheating comprises indirect heat exchanging (which is also discussed below).

The method further comprises heating the preheated sludge to temperature of 150-250 °C to obtain a heat-treated sludge. Preferably, the preheated sludge is heated to a temperature of 150-220 °C, 170-250 °C or 170-240 °C. At such temperatures, the pressure of the sludge is typically 3-50 bar. The heated sludge undergoes hydrothermal carbonization, which facilitates subsequent separation. Hydrothermal carbonization is normally carried out without the addition of any oxygen (the sludge, however, always contains some oxygen). Electrical heating, heating with steam or another heating method can be used. Electrical heating is preferred.

The method further comprises cooling the heat-treated sludge to obtain cooled sludge.

In one embodiment, the cooling is flash cooling such that the at least one steam fraction used for the preheating is obtained in addition to the cooled sludge.

In another embodiment, the cooling is indirect heat exchanging to achieve said preheating. Thus, heat maybe transferred from heat-treated sludge from the heating step to sludge going to the heating step by means of indirect heat- exchangers.

The method further comprises separating the cooled sludge into a first fraction and a second fraction, wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction. Even though the embodiments of the first aspect discussed above apply mutatis mutandis to the second aspect, a few embodiments of the second aspect are discussed below in some detail.

Thus, in one embodiment of the second aspect, the preheated sludge is further heated in a reactor in which the sludge is separated into a

recirculation fraction that is recirculated to the reactor and an outlet fraction that is subjected to cooling (e.g. flash cooling). In such an embodiment, the average particle size is preferably larger in the outlet fraction than in the recirculation fraction. To achieve such a separation based on particle size, the separation in the reactor may comprise fluidization or sedimentation of particles of the sludge.

The reactor is for example a vertical reactor. When such a reactor is used, the sludge can be fed to an inlet at the top of the reactor and guided downwardly through a first channel in the reactor and then upwardly through a second channel in the reactor. Further, the recirculation fraction can be withdrawn from the reactor at a position that is located higher up in the second channel than a position at which the outlet fraction is withdrawn.

When the cooling is flash cooling, at least two, such as at least three steam fractions of different temperatures can be obtained and used sequentially in the preheating. Accordingly, the sludge can be first preheated with the steam fraction of the lowest temperature.

The separation of the cooled sludge into a first fraction and a second fraction may for example comprise settling and/or filter pressing. In addition, the separation may comprise membrane filtration. In one embodiment, the separation comprises settling to obtain a clear fraction and a sediment fraction. In such an embodiment, the clear fraction maybe subjected to filtering, such as membrane filtering, to obtain a filtrate and a retentate. The retentate can for example be recirculated such that it is combined with the sludge and heat-treated. Further, the filtrate can for example be used for heating the sludge upstream of the preheating in a heat exchange operation. The sludge can thus be heated first by the filtrate and then by the at least one steam fraction or the indirect heat exchanging on its way to the reactor. The sediment fraction from the settling can for example be separated into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction, preferably by means of a filter press. At least part of the liquid fraction can then be merged with the clear fraction from the settling and thus subjected to the filtering. At least part of the liquid fraction can also be merged with the sediment fraction.

In another embodiment (corresponding to the second configuration of the separation arrangement of the first aspect), the separation comprises separation of the cooled sludge by filtering, such as filter pressing (without prior settling) into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction. The cooled sludge maybe subjected to additional cooling before such filtering. Such additional cooling may be carried out in a cooler. Alternatively or complementary, the cooled sludge maybe further cooled by heat exchange with the incoming sludge prior to the preheating. The liquid fraction may be subjected to membrane filtering such that a filtrate and a retentate are obtained. The retentate may be recycled and thereby combined with the sludge prior to the further heating and preferably also prior to the preheating.

One embodiment of the method further comprises separation of phosphorus from the first fraction, the sediment fraction or the solids fraction. However, such separation may also be carried out outside the container in a method separate from the method of the second aspect.

EXAMPLES

Figure 1 illustrates an embodiment of a container 100 for treatment of sludge from a sewage treatment plant. As all standardized containers, the container 100 has a housing 101 comprising a horizontal bottom wall, a horizontal top wall and two pairs of opposed vertical side walls. The walls are normally composed of steel. In addition, the container comprises a lower floor (not shown in figure 1) and an upper floor (not shown in figure 1) provided above the lower floor to form an interspace (not shown in figure 1) between the lower floor and the upper floor. The upper and the lower floor are composed of steel, such as stainless steel. The interspace is in fluid communication with a space above the upper floor such that sludge leaked from a position above the upper floor is collected in the interspace.

Further, the container 100 is adapted to be loaded on and off a truck capable of transporting the container 100. For example, the container 100 can be conveniently transported from the site where it is produced/assembled to the site of the sewage treatment plant. Consequently, the container format enables standardized production/ assembly. Further, the container 100 can be conveniently picked up at the site of the sewage treatment plant for service, if necessary. In such case, the truck picking up the container 100 can bring a replacement container 100, which minimizes the interruption of operation.

The container 100 comprises a sludge inlet 102a. It may for example be arranged in the housing 101. The sludge inlet 102a is connectable to a sludge outlet of the sewage treatment plant. Inside the housing 101 of the container 100, a sludge silo 102 is arranged to collect sludge fed to the container 100 from the sewage treatment plant via the sludge inlet 102a. The sludge silo is preferably supported by the upper floor. Further, the sludge silo 102 is connected to a conduit 103 for conducting sludge from the sludge silo 102 to a vertical reactor 104 (a more detailed embodiment of a suitable vertical reactor is described below with reference to figure 4).

At least one pump 105 is arranged on the conduit 103. Further, a heat exchanger 106 for preheating the sludge maybe arranged on the conduit 103. The at least one pump 105 and the heat exchanger 106 are preferably supported by the upper floor. The conduit 103 comprises at least one steam mixer 107 by means of which at least one steam fraction is mixed into the sludge to (further) preheat it. If the heat exchanger 106 is included, the at least one steam mixer 107 is/ are arranged downstream the heat exchanger 106. The at least one steam mixer 107 may for example be at least one venturi steam mixer or at least one mechanical re-compressor with steam nozzle mixer. The former alternative is considered to be more easily implemented in the system. The temperature of the sludge after the at least one steam mixer is preferably at least 90 °C, such as 90-150 °C.

A booster pump 103b maybe arranged on the conduit 103 between the at least one steam mixer 107 and the vertical reactor 104. The effect of such a pump 103b may be to further increase the pressure in the conduit to overcome the higher pressure in the reactor.

At the top of the vertical reactor 104, a reactor top inlet 108 is arranged. The conduit 103 connects to the reactor top inlet 108. The vertical reactor 104 further comprises a recirculation conduit 109 on which an electrical heater 110 is arranged. However, the electrical heater can be omitted if the composition of the sludge and the conditions in the reactor are such that exothermic reactions provide sufficient heat. The downstream end of the conduit 103 and the reactor top inlet 108 can be part of the recirculation conduit 109. Accordingly, the conduit 103 may comprise a recirculation conduit inlet 111 arranged downstream the at least one steam mixer 107.

In the vertical reactor 104, the sludge is heat-treated, preferably under hydrothermal carbonization conditions, which means that no oxygen is added and that the temperature is 150-250 °C, preferably 170-240 °C. The vertical reactor is supported by the upper floor. During the heat treatment, particles in the sludge agglomerate to form larger particles, which agglomeration facilitates downstream separation of suspended solids. The vertical reactor 104 comprises a recirculation conduit outlet 112 through which a

recirculation fraction is led from the vertical reactor 104 into the recirculation conduit 109. The vertical reactor 104 further comprises at least one reactor sludge outlet 113 through which a heat-treated sludge fraction (also referred to as an "outlet fraction") is fed to a flashing arrangement 114. The

recirculation conduit outlet 112 is preferably arranged above the at least one sludge outlet 113. In such case, fluidization or sedimentation principles can be utilized such that the average particle is larger in the heat-treated sludge fraction than in the recirculation fraction. Further, the smaller particles of the recirculation fraction pass the vertical reactor 104 again and get another chance to agglomerate. Further, refractory components in the recirculation fraction are recycled to the reactor 104, which decreases their concentrations in the outlet fraction.

The recirculation conduit may comprise a bottom feed conduit 109a, which connects to a reactor bottom inlet 109c arranged at the bottom of the vertical reactor 104. When such a bottom feed conduit 109a is included, it routes at least part of the recirculation fraction to the bottom of the vertical reactor 104, which may improve fluidization in the vertical reactor.

It is possible to replace the vertical reactor 104 with another reactor that is also capable of heat-treating the sludge under hydrothermal carbonization conditions. The embodiment of figure 1 as well as the embodiments of figures 2 and 3 discussed below are thus not necessarily limited to the vertical reactor 104 discussed above.

The flashing arrangement 114 preferably comprises at least one flash tank 115 in which the heat-treated sludge is cooled by a pressure reduction also known as "flashing" and the at least one steam fraction added to the sludge in the at least one steam mixer 107 is/ are produced. The at least one flash tank 115 is/are preferably supported by the upper floor. When the flashing

arrangement 114 comprises more than one flash tank 115, they are preferably arranged in series (figure 1 shows three flash tanks 115 arranged in series).

The container further comprises a steam routing arrangement 116 for routing the at least one steam fraction from the flashing arrangement 114 to the at least one steam mixer 107. Preferably, the steam routing arrangement 116 comprises at least one steam conduit 117, wherein each steam conduit 117 connects a flash tank 115 to a steam mixer 107. In such case, a steam conduit 117 can connect the flash tank 115 arranged furthest upstream to the steam mixer 107 arranged furthest downstream and another steam conduit 117 can connect the flash tank 115 arranged furthest downstream to the steam mixer 107 arranged furthest upstream. Thereby, an efficient preheating sequence is obtained. A settling tank 118 for separating the cooled sludge from the flashing arrangement 114 into a clear fraction and a sediment fraction is arranged downstream the flashing arrangement 114. The settling tank 118, which is preferably supported by the upper floor, can be pressurized, which means that the pressure of the cooled sludge from the flashing arrangement 114 is still above atmospheric when it reaches the settling tank. A membrane filter unit 119 can be arranged downstream the settling tank 118 for separating the clear fraction into a filtrate and a retentate. The membrane filter unit 119 can comprise a pump 120 for driving the separation. The membrane filter unit 119 and the pump 120 are preferably supported by the upper floor. If the settling tank is pressurized, the energy input in the pump 120 can be reduced. If the pressure in the settling tank 118 is high enough, the pump 120 can be omitted.

A retentate conduit 121 maybe arranged to recirculate the retentate to a retentate inlet 122 on the conduit 103. Thereby, the retentate maybe combined with untreated sludge and heat-treated again, which means that high-molecular-weight organic compounds and small particles of the retentate, which are relatively small, can get another chance to agglomerate. Combining the retentate with the untreated sludge may thus increase the overall yield of solid material and reduce the amount of COD leaving the system. Further, a filtrate conduit 123 may be arranged to conduct the filtrate from the membrane filter unit 119 to the heat exchanger 106, in which it preheats the incoming sludge. A filtrate outlet 124 may be arranged

downstream the heat exchanger 106. The filtrate outlet 124 maybe

connectable to the sewage treatment plant such that the filtrate can be returned.

A sediment conduit 125 may be arranged to conduct the sediment fraction from the settling tank 118 to a solid/liquid separation unit, preferably a filter press 126, that separates the sediment fraction into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction. The filter press 126 normally comprises a water inlet 126a for washing water. Further, the filter press 126 is preferably supported by the upper floor. A first liquid fraction conduit 127 may be arranged to merge a first part of the liquid fraction from the filter press 126 with the clear fraction from the settling tank 118. If the membrane filter unit 119 is included, said first part of the liquid fraction and the clear fraction are merged upstream of it. A second part of the liquid fraction from the filter press 126 may be recirculated. For example, a second liquid fraction conduit 128 may be arranged to merge the second liquid fraction with the sediment fraction from the settling tank 118. Such a second liquid fraction conduit 128 may comprise a cooler 128a for cooling the second liquid fraction. Such a cooler 128a is preferably supported by the upper floor. The settling tank 118, membrane filter unit 119, the filter press 126 and the associated conduits together forms an embodiment of a separation

arrangement for separating the cooled sludge from the flashing arrangement 114 into a first fraction (in this embodiment the solids fraction from the filter press 126) and a second fraction (in this embodiment the filtrate from the membrane filter unit 119), wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction.

A solids fraction outlet 129 maybe arranged downstream the filter press 126. The solids fraction from the solids fraction outlet 129 may be further treated in a phosphorus separation unit 130. If the filter press 126 is not included, the sediment fraction from the settling tank 118 can be further treated in the phosphorus separation unit 130.

The phosphorus separation unit 130 can be arranged inside the housing 101 of the container 100. Due to the limited space available in the container 100, it may however be preferred that the phosphorus separation unit 130 is separate from the container 100.

In any case, the phosphorous separation unit 130 may comprise a first mixing unit 131, such as a stirred tank, for mixing the solids fraction with acid and optionally with water to obtain an acidified product that preferably has a pH of 3-4, at which phosphorous is dissolved together with part of the heavy metal content of the incoming solids fraction. The mixing unit 131 may thus comprise a water inlet and an acid inlet. The water inlet and the acid inlet maybe the same inlet or two different inlets. The phosphorous separation unit 130 further comprises a first separation unit 132, such as a filter press, arranged downstream the mixing unit 131. The function of the first separation unit 132 is separation of the acidified product into a fuel fraction and acidified liquid fraction comprising dissolved phosphates. The first separation unit 132 can alternatively be the same filter press as unit 126 and operate by alternatively dewatering and washing the sediment fraction and outlet from the stirred tank 131. The fuel fraction is recovered from the phosphorous separation unit 130 through a fuel fraction outlet 133. The first separation unit 132 may comprise a water inlet 132a for washing water. A second mixing unit 134, such as a stirred tank, is arranged downstream the first separation unit 132. In the second mixing unit 134, lime can be added to the acidified liquid fraction such that a neutralized slurry comprising precipitated phosphates is obtained. To separate the neutralized slurry into a solids fraction comprising precipitated phosphates and a liquid effluent fraction, a second separation unit 135 is arranged downstream the second mixing unit 134. The liquid effluent fraction can for example be returned to the sewage treatment plant and/ or treated further for separate removal of dissolved heavy metals. The solids fraction comprising precipitated phosphates can, optionally after refining, be used in the production of a fertilizer.

A gas treatment unit 140 maybe arranged in the container 100 and one or more conduits maybe arranged to conduct gases from the sludge silo 102, the vertical reactor 113 and/ or the settling tank 118 to the gas treatment unit 140. The gas treatment unit 140 may for example comprise a condenser 141 for separating gases into a condensed fraction and a gaseous fraction. Such a condenser is preferably supported by the upper floor. A condensed fraction conduit 142 may be arranged to recirculate the condensed fraction from the condenser 141 to the conduit 103. The condensed fraction can thus be mixed with the incoming sludge. The gas treatment unit 140 may further comprise a carbon filter 143 arranged downstream the condenser to purify the gaseous fraction. Another means for removing trace hydrocarbons can be used instead of the carbon filter.

Figure 2 illustrates another embodiment of a container 100 for treatment of sludge from a sewage treatment plant. In the embodiment of figure 2, the at least one steam mixer 107, the flashing arrangement 114 and the steam routing arrangement 116 of the embodiment of figure 1 are replaced with an arrangement 207 for indirect heat exchange, which is preferably supported by the upper floor. Otherwise, the components of the embodiment of figure 2 are as in the embodiment of figure 1. In the arrangement 207 for indirect heat exchange, heat is transferred from the heat-treated sludge fraction to the sludge in the conduit 103 without direct contact. The heat-treated sludge is thus kept separate from the sludge conducted in the conduit 103.

The arrangement 207 for indirect heat exchange may comprise a series of indirect heat exchangers 207a, 207b, 207c, which maybe selected from tubular heat exchangers and plate heat exchangers.

Figure 3 illustrates another embodiment of a container 100 for treatment of sludge from a sewage treatment plant. In the embodiment of figure 3, the separation arrangement for separating the cooled sludge from the flashing arrangement 114 into the first fraction and the second fraction (wherein the suspended solids content is higher in the first fraction than in the second fraction) is different compared to the embodiment of figure 1. Otherwise, the components of the embodiment of figure 3 are as in the embodiment of figure 1.

In the embodiment of figure 3, the separation arrangement comprises a solid/liquid separation unit 301, preferably a filter press, that separates the cooled sludge from the flashing arrangement 114 into a solids fraction and a liquid fraction. The solid/liquid separation unit 301 is preferably supported by the upper floor. Before the solid/liquid separation unit 301, the cooled sludge maybe subjected to further cooling. For example, a cooler 302 for cooling the cooled sludge prior to the solid/liquid separation unit 301 may be arranged upstream the solid/liquid separation unit 301 and downstream the flashing arrangement 114. The cooler 302 is preferably supported by the upper floor. Further, a conduit 303 for the cooled sludge maybe arranged to conduct the cooled sludge from the flashing arrangement 114 to the cooler 302 via the heat exchanger 106. The sludge from the reactor 104 may thus be cooled in three steps: first in the flashing arrangement 114 (which may comprise several flashing stages), then in the heat exchanger 106 and finally in the cooler 302.

The solid/liquid separation unit 301 normally comprises a water inlet 301a for washing water. A liquid fraction conduit 305 may be arranged to conduct the liquid fraction from the solid/liquid separation unit 301 to a membrane filter unit 307 for separating the liquid fraction into a filtrate and a retentate. The liquid fraction conduit may comprise a pump 306 to drive the separation in the membrane filter unit 307. The membrane filter unit 307 and the pump 306 are preferably arranged on the upper floor. A retentate conduit 308 may be arranged to recirculate the retentate to a retentate inlet on the conduit 103. Thereby, the retentate may be combined with untreated sludge and heat- treated again, which means that high-molecular-weight organic compounds and small particles of the retentate, which are relatively small, can get another chance to agglomerate. Combining the retentate with the untreated sludge may thus increase the overall yield of solid material. Further, a filtrate conduit 309 maybe arranged to conduct the filtrate from the membrane filter unit 307 to a filtrate outlet 124, which maybe connectable to the sewage treatment plant such that the filtrate can be returned. Figure 4 illustrates an embodiment of a continuous vertical reactor 404, which is designed to treat pressurized aqueous sludge having a temperature of at least 150 °C. Preferably, the reactor is designed to treat such sludge having a temperature of 200-250 °C and a pressure of 15-50 bar.

The reactor 404 comprises a reactor top inlet 408 arranged at a top section 405 of the reactor 404. A first channel 401 extends downwardly from the reactor top inlet 408 for guiding sludge from the reactor top inlet 408 to a bottom section 406 of the reactor 404. Further, a second channel 402 extends upwardly from the bottom section 406. At least one separation wall 403, which preferably is essentially vertical, separates first channel 401 from the second channel 402. At the bottom section 406 of the reactor 404, there is provided an opening 407 through which sludge may flow from the first channel 401 into the second channel 402.

The reactor 404 comprises at least one upper outlet 412 arranged at the second channel 402 to connect to a recirculation conduit 409 for

recirculation of a fraction of the heat-treated sludge (a "recirculation fraction"). The reactor 404 is thus designed to allow sludge to flow from the opening 407 through the second channel 402 to the upper outlet 412. The recirculation conduit 409 preferably comprises a heater, such as an electrical heater, for heating the recirculation fraction.

The reactor 404 further comprises at least one lower outlet 413 that can be connected to a cooling arrangement for heat-treated sludge, such as the flashing arrangement 114 of figure 1 and 3 or the arrangement 207 for indirect heat exchange of figure 2.

The at least one lower outlet 413 is/ are arranged below the at least one upper outlet 412. Consequently, the average particle size will be larger in the heat- treated sludge that leaves the reactor 404 through the at least one lower outlet 413 than in the recirculation fraction in the recirculation conduit 409. The reason for the difference in particle size is the fluidization obtained in the second channel 402. To aid the fluidization, the reactor 404 may comprise a bottom inlet 409c arranged at the bottom section 406 of the reactor 404. The bottom inlet 409c can for example be connected to the recirculation conduit 409 such that part of the recirculation fraction can be recirculated to the bottom inlet 409c.

The reactor 404 may comprise an outer wall 414 which is also an outer wall of the second channel 402. Further, the separation wall 403 may constitute an inner wall of the second channel 402 and an outer wall of the first channel 401. For example, the separation wall 403 maybe a pipe extending

downwardly from the reactor top inlet 408 to the bottom section 406 of the reactor 404. Such a pipe may have an essentially circular cross-section.

Further, the outer wall 414 may comprise a tubular section 415 having an essentially circular cross-section. In such case, the pipe and the tubular section 415 maybe concentric. In one embodiment, the outer wall has three major sections: the tubular section 415; a bottom wall section below the tubular section 415 at the bottom section 406 of the reactor 404; and a top wall section above the tubular section 415 at the top section 405 of the reactor 404. The bottom wall section and/ or the top wall section may for example be shaped as a cone, a truncated cone or a half sphere.

A gas outlet 416 may be arranged at a top section 405 of the reactor 404 to allow gases formed in the reactor to be purged.

Figure 5 is a simplified top view of the upper floor 501 of an embodiment of container of the present disclosure. The upper floor 501 is rectangular and surrounded by the lateral walls of the housing 500 of the container. A central portion of the upper floor is constituted by a rectangular grating 502, through which leaked sludge may flow to a space below the upper floor 501 ("the interspace", see figure 6). The upper floor 501 is preferably inclined towards the grating 502 (see figure 7). It is intended that equipment is primarily supported by the portion of the upper floor 501 that is not constituted by the grating 502. The length of the upper floor can for example be about 14 m, while the width of the upper floor can be about 3.3 m.

Figure 6 is a simplified longitudinal section view of an embodiment of a container of the present disclosure. Inside the housing 500 of the container, there is provided an upper floor 501 and a lower floor 503. The floors 501, 503 and the housing 500 enclose an interspace 505. A drain valve 504 is arranged in the housing 500 at the bottom of the interspace 505 such that the interspace 505 can be emptied. The lower floor 503 is inclined towards the drain valve 504. The inclination of the lower floor 503 can for example be 0.4 degrees. The length and width of the interspace 505 is typically the same as for the upper floor, in this case 14 x 3.3 m (see figure 5). A typical average height for the interspace (i.e. a typical average distance in the vertical direction between the lower floor 503 and the upper floor 501) is 0.45 m, resulting in an interspace volume of about 21 ms. As a typical combined volume of the reactor and all tanks and pipes of the system (not shown) in the container of figure 6 is about 18 m3, the risk of flooding the interspace 505 is very low.

Figure 7 is a simplified cross section view of an embodiment of a container of the present disclosure and shows an upper floor 501 that is inclined towards a grating 502 constituting a central portion of the upper floor 501.