Entering a new field of business -
Transformation process towards a circular economy
Launch in Helmstedt
EEW started up the first sewage sludge mono-incineration plant in the state of Lower Saxony in July 2022. The numbers show the importance of this facility: 160,000 tonnes of original substance are treated here, equivalent to 20% of the sewage sludge generated in Lower Saxony. It was already remarkable before construction started that the necessary permitting process took just 20 months – in part because there was and is a high level of acceptance for this project among the public.
On historic foundations
One reason for this is the Helmstedt area’s long history of energy generation. For more than 100 years, energy was produced here from brown coal. About 25 years ago, with the construction of the TRV Buschhaus plant for thermal treatment of residual waste, waste began to replace coal as a fuel. The sewage sludge mono-incineration plant represents a giant step forward for the transformation process towards a circular economy and EEW’s diversification at this site.
One reason for the public’s acceptance: Even those without technical know-how can easily understand that generating energy from waste and sewage sludge conserves resources and actively protects the environment. Moreover, sludge from sewage treatment plants in big cities and metropolitan regions contains significant volumes of various pollutants, including heavy metals, organic compounds and pharmaceutical residues as well as pathogens and microplastics. The plant’s flue gas cleaning concentrates the heavy metals, so they can be safely deposited in underground landfills. Organic pollutants, microplastics and pharmaceutical residues are safely destroyed and pathogens are killed off.
The fluidised bed process deployed at the Helmstedt site achieves a remarkably high phosphorus recovery rate from the combustion ash. EEW’s goal is to reclaim more than 90% of this raw material.