Sorel Tracy | Giving a second life to… poo

It is now possible to reuse bodily waste thanks to the Hydrothermal Oxidation Laboratory. This pioneering project, unique in Canada, is led by the Center for Technology Transfer in Industrial Ecology (CTTEI). Summary.

Posted at 10:00 am

Samuel La Rochelle

Samuel La Rochelle
special cooperation

As a rule, toilet water goes to the water treatment plant. Solids called “supernatant” must be poured and treated in filters and chlorinated, before the extracted water is tested and released into raceways.

As for the solid residue, approximately 450 municipalities in Quebec process it in huge exposed vats. “Municipal sludge, which we are talking about here, accumulates for 10 to 25 years before municipalities have to drain it, explains Claude Mihaux-Piccard, Director General of CTTEI. The most common solution is to pump and centrifuge it to extract as much water as possible, before burying the remains. . »

Photo provided by the Center for Technology Transfer in the Industrial Environment

Experimental unit of CTTEI

CTTEI would like to provide an alternative to this last step. “Our hydrothermal oxidation unit allows us to operate at lower temperatures, without generating pollutants, to extract pure water and sand-like inorganic materials. This sand is then used in concrete. This avoids sludge transfer and centrifugation.”

Preliminary studies conducted in Sorel-Tracy showed a saving of 40% compared to the previously considered solution for emptying aerobic basins. Economic interest was our main issue, as landfill costs are low in Quebec.

Claude Mihaux-Piccard, General Manager of CTTEI

Valuable experience

For 23 years, the center has sought to increase the performance of businesses and communities by helping them divert their waste from landfill, which is viewed here as leftovers or by-products. “We view these materials as real resources that can be reused by the companies themselves or by others nearby.”

Researchers, engineers, chemists, and technicians analyze the composition of materials to determine if they are hazardous, whether pollutants need to be extracted from and who they might be interested in. “Every job brings us a new challenge. It keeps our team motivated. We want to show companies that their waste can be a business opportunity rather than something to manage that costs money.”

Other successes

This vision of industrial ecology drives industries to move towards zero waste, optimizing physical and human resources, as well as revitalizing the local environment. Among CTTEI’s other successes, note its partnership with Société Laurentide in reusing paint cans that Quebecers return to hardware stores and surplus paint in department stores. One solution has been found: using the latex found in these paints in pavement concrete, in order to improve resistance to freeze-thaw cycles and to salt defrosting.

According to Claude Mihaux-Picard, companies and municipalities are more interested than ever in these examples of a circular economy. The pandemic has highlighted the potential to do things differently. Now that people and governments better understand what it is, there are more and more funding programs to support our activities. And activities there! “Our team is constantly growing. »

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