Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Company Turns Sewage into Commercial Fertilizer

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Company Turns Sewage into Commercial Fertilizer

Article excerpt

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ A sludge treatment company has concocted a way for communities to turn their sewage into, well, not exactly gold, but something akin to pay dirt.

It's a commercial fertilizer that looks, smells and acts like soil.

Cities have been trying to deal with sludge for decades. Some burn it, others haul it to landfills. A few dumped it in the ocean _ a practice that Congress outlawed last year.

"Sludge has always had a bad name. But we've developed a process that can turn sludge into something useful," said Pat Nicholson, president of N-Viro Energy Systems Ltd.

Thirty-three communities in the United States, England and Australia are using the process, in which sludge is treated with lime and cement kiln dust to kill disease-producing bacteria.

The kiln dust removes odor from sludge much the same way baking soda absorbs refrigerator smells.

The patented process was developed by Nicholson and Jeffrey Burnham, a microbiology professor at the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, in 1984.

N-Viro began marketing it in 1987.

Last November, N-Viro received the President's Environmental and Conservation Citation for excellence in innovative technology.

The company builds and operates sludge processing plants for communities. It also sells the technology so municipalities can build and manage their own operations.

Last year, 33 N-Viro plants were operating worldwide, and 30 more are expected to open this year.

N-Viro processed more than 1 million tons of sludge last year.

Marketed as N-Viro Soil or N-Viro Aglime, most of it was used by farmers, and some was used for land reclamation or landfill cover.

The company eventually plans to sell N-Viro soil for residential use.

N-Viro has been treating Toledo's sludge since December 1989. The city generates about 50 tons a day. Before N-Viro, it was spread on farm fields, a practice some communities oppose because of the smell and health risk.

Farmers now ask for the product, which sells for about $5 a ton, says Christopher Mahoney, national sales manager. …

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