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Turning Sewage into Paper

Can you imagine writing something on sewage?

An Israeli researcher, Dr. Refael Aharon of Applied CleanTech, has developed a new system that is capable of turning stinking sewage into scentless paper.

So how is sewage turned to paper?

Domestic waste water contains solid substances in the form of food leftovers, used toilet paper and fiber from clothes as they are laundered. These solid substances contain cellulose which can be used for paper production after drying.

Treatment of the solids currently found in waste water is a challenging and expensive activity for the effluent management industry.

Dr. Aharon’s system can reduce solids present in sewage by up to 50% which has the flow on effect of reducing the amount of chemicals needed for treating the sewage. The cellulose recovered from the waste can be sold to the paper industry which offsets the cost of waste treatment.

The system has been tested on a pilot scale in a sewage treatment system in Southern Israel and has proved to be a success. The paper produced is much cheaper than the usual recycled paper. Though the system is yet to take off on a large scale, it can serve as an alternative for wood pulp and help reduce the number of trees cut for paper production. Although the quality of the paper produced is poor, hopefully it will gain popularity with increasing awareness.

This innovative system may serve as a stimulus for further improvements. Such sustainable technologies will go a long way towards reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the paper industry and conserving forest resources.

In developing countries like India domestic waste water is very high in solids, and therefore would allow the maximum amount of cellulose to be derived. An effluent treatment company could have two successful streams of income, one from producing recycled paper and another through saving money needed for buying chemicals as part of the water treatment process.`

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