Aerated-Pile Composting: A Promising New Alternative for Sewage Sludge Disposal

by Eugene E. Dallaire, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1978, Vol. 48, Issue 9, Pg. 110-117

Document Type: Feature article


In the past several years, traditional methods of sludge disposal such as incineration and ocean dumping have come under fire from environmental groups and the EPA. This has sparked a search for more environmentally acceptable methods of sludge disposal. One method receiving considerable attention at present is sewage-sludge composting. Since the early 1970's, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has developed the aerated pile method. Dewatered sludge is mixed with woodchips and the resulting mixture put in a pile. A blower is used to suck air down through the pile, providing oxygen for aerobic microbes to break down the sludge into compost. The compost is useful as a soil conditioner. To make this process attractive, it's not necessary that the compost be sold to cover all costs. The only thing that matters is that the cost of composting be less than acceptable alternatives for sludge disposal. Camden, N.J., recently stopped dumping its sludge at sea and began composting.

Subject Headings: Aeration | Composting | Sewage | Sludge | Wood piles | Incineration | Fires | Environmental Protection Agency

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