The start of the LIFE-DRY4GAS Project was held the 3rd of July 2017 with a consortium integrated by 7 partners. From the beginning, the project has suffered several hitches with the withdrawal of some partners, including the coordinator, which has led to a delay in the execution of actions and to the extension of the project until the end of 2023. CIEMAT was proposed as new coordinator by the rest of the remaining partners and as proposed coordinator was in charge of writing the Amendment with the new share of tasks and budget and its communication to the Commission. The 20th of December 2019, EASME accepted the Amendment of the project and CIEMAT is its official coordinator since the 8th of January 2020.
In this sense, the current consortium is very solid and has excitement, technical capacity and means for carrying out the actions included in the project, aimed at consecution of project objectives and results initially foreseen, guaranteed by the great expertise of the remaining partners. Therefore, the project is not negative affected in any aspect due to the change in the consortium.
The participation in new tasks in the framework of the project has led CIEMAT to carrying out unforeseen additional test runs in the solar drying and gasification pilot plants located at CEDER-CIEMAT (tasks A1, A2 and A3), aimed at the design of the prototype technologies to be installed in the WWTP located in San Javier (Murcia, Spain). With these tests and the tasks performed by all the project partners, the preparatory actions (A1-A6) have been finished.
In action B1, once the dryer is finished and the first tests have been performed, currently the startup of the dryer is been carried out, introducing fresh sewage sludge from the WWTP continuously. The dried sewage sludge is destined to agriculture, with the subsequent reduction in cost associated to its management due to the decrease in water content.
Moreover, in action B2 currently the construction of the gasification part of the prototype is been finished, which is foreseen to be completed during October. Simultaneously, the definition and setting of the control is been carried out and the startup of the gasifier is foreseen at the end of October. Related to the gasifier, the equipment for characterization of the syngas is been prepared for its use in the prototype (B3).
Regarding the energy recovery part (B4), composed of a combustion chamber, a heat exchanger, a superheated water circuit and an ORC, the construction and control have been finished and the curing of the refractory and the first tests with all the system using propane as fuel has been performed. The heat has been conducted to the different parts of the dryer, checking the right working of this part of the installation. When the gasifier works, the syngas will be introduced in the combustion chamber, instead of propane.
Additionally, an agronomic study of the application of dried sludge and the ashes from the gasification of sludge has been performed in real agricultural fields (B5), getting very positive results related to biodiversity of the floor, production and quality of fruit.
Within action B6, interconnections between different parts of the prototype and auxiliary services of compressed air, propane, water and electricity, needed for working the prototype have been finished.
Furthermore, several tasks related to replicability and transferability of technology has been carried out, defining several sizes of the prototype for its utilization in different locations and the elaboration of an exploitation study has been started in each case. The legal framework of the utilisation of sewage sludge for producing energy has been also revised (B7).
Regarding monitoring of the impact of the project, actions C1 and C2 are under development, the same as dissemination action D1 and project management actions E1 and E2. Within dissemination action, the organization of the Conference “Proyecto LIFE-DRY4GAS Economía Circular de lodos de depuradora” celebrated the 20th of June 2023 at CEDER-CIEMAT could be remarked. From the point of view of the project management, after the situation derived form COVID-19, in-person meetings were restarted in 2022, with the monitoring visit to the prototype in June 2022 and the visit of the project advisor from CINEA and the monitor of the project to the prototype in September 2023.