Assessment of the suitability of composted sewage sludge as an adsorbent for the treatment of heavy-metal contaminated wastewater, with special reference to cadmium

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

A large proportion of sewage sludge in South Africa contains heavy metal concentrations which are deemed to be above threshold limits for its use as a fertiliser. Furthermore, sewage sludge has a high affinity for heavy metals. Until the sources of heavy metal contamination of municipal sewage sludge are considerably reduced the contaminated sewage sludge must either be disposed of or used for some other purpose. The use of contaminated sewage sludge as an adsorbent for treating heavy metal-contaminated wastewaters may provide an alternative and practical use for this material. The objective of this study was to assess the potential of composted sewage sludge (which is more stable and has a higher permeability than ordinary sewage sludge), produced from municipal sewage sludge in Milnerton, as an adsorbent for the extraction of heavy metals from contaminated wastewaters. The study was conducted with specific reference to cadmium since it is one of the most toxic of the heavy metals and occurs in many types of wastewaters.

Includes bibliography.