Many who follow the sludge debates (primarily issues surrounding land application of wastewater sludges) are very interested in high tech alternatives.

In all events, caution is always called for when information about such alternatives comes out, particularly when they are in press-release form.

There’s a press-release style news article going around now about a technology purported to produce biodiesel from many things, including sewage sludge. This one is reported in a British business publication, NorthEast Business. The head of the UK concern with a license on the technology is reported in the article to have said

“The technology is absolutely groundbreaking. It produces a synthetic diesel – not a biodiesel. It uses organic waste material – sewage sludge, anaerobic digestion residuals – and it is fully patented.”

It should be understood that there is no free lunch: residuals (in the form of sludge or other output) invariably result from such processes. We need data, especially laboratory development data and/or prototype (actual system) data, even if on a small-scale one, to be able to know if such technologies really do work, and what they cost.