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Water Sci Technol. 2013;68(8):1866-72. doi: 10.2166/wst.2013.443.

Ammonia sanitisation of sewage sludge using urea.

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  • 1Department of Energy & Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7032, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden E-mail:; Department of Chemistry, Environment and Food Security, National Veterinary Institute, SE-751 89 Uppsala, Sweden.


The aim of the study was to develop a simple, low-cost treatment for sewage sludge using urea as a sanitising agent. Sewage sludge was spiked with Enterococcus faecalis and Salmonella typhimurium, treated with 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2% w/w urea at laboratory scale, and the viability was monitored during 4 months of storage at 4, 10 and 22 °C (only 0.5%). A linear relationship was identified between Salmonella spp. inactivation rate and ammonia (NH3) concentration. Temperature had a positive impact on Salmonella spp. inactivation at higher temperatures, but in the range 4-10 °C temperature influenced this inactivation merely by its impact on the ammonia equilibrium. Enterococcus spp. was more persistent and a lag phase of up to 11 weeks was observed. Higher temperature and ammonia concentration reduced the lag phase duration significantly, and also had a clear effect on the inactivation rate for the treatments with 0.5% urea at 22 °C and 2% urea at 4 and 10 °C. Urea sanitisation of sewage sludge can give a 2 log10 reduction of Enterococcus spp. and more than a 5 log10 reduction of Salmonella spp. within 6 weeks with either 0.5% w/w urea at 22 °C or 2% urea at 10 °C.

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