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Drying of fecal sludge in 3D laminate enclosures for urban waste management

Saxena, Shray, Ebrazibakhshayesh, Babak, Dentel, Steven K., Cha, Daniel K., Imhoff, Paul T.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.672 pp. 927-937
air, air temperature, containers, developing countries, drying, evaporation, field experimentation, hydrophobicity, laboratory experimentation, models, prototypes, relative humidity, sanitation, sludge, waste management, wind speed
Laminated hydrophobic membranes have been proposed as liners for container-based sanitation systems in developing countries. The laminate allows drying of fecal sludge, which might significantly reduce the frequency of container emptying, while containing liquids and solids. While previous laboratory tests demonstrated rapid drying of fecal sludge or water retained in laminates, experiments did not assess the effects of system dimension or scale on performance. In this study fecal sludge drying and water evaporation were evaluated in 3D laminate boxes (decimeter scale) or 3D laminate-lined 40 L and 55 gallon drums (meter scale) that are prototypes of toilet containers for field application. A stagnant film model described fecal sludge drying and water evaporation in the laminate boxes and laminate-lined drums well. The effective diffusion length (λ) for the laminate was fitted in all systems and increased with system dimension and scale: λ increased by a factor of 1.4 from 1D decimeter-scale envelopes to 3D decimeter-scale boxes, and by a factor of 1.3–1.7 from 3D decimeter-scale boxes to 3D meter-scale drums. The longer λ with increasing dimension and scale is likely due to nonuniform temperature and relative humidity in the air outside the laminate and nonuniform temperature within the laminate. Using best-fit λ for the laminate-lined 40 L and 55 gallon drum experiments conducted in a controlled laboratory, drying was predicted for an 11-day field experiment. Although the air temperature and relative humidity varied significantly in the field tests from −1 °C to 26 °C and 35% to 97%, respectively, the stagnant film model predicted drying over the 11-day period reasonably well with total error ≤ 13% using 24-h average air temperature and relative humidity. Drying of fecal sludge in laminate-lined drums in the field might be adequately described with a stagnant film model using daily-average weather conditions, if wind speeds are low.