Biosolids are the treated organic residuals, also known as sludge, that are generated from domestic wastewater treatment plants. According to the USEPA, over 7 millions tons (dry weight) of biosolids are generated every year in the US by more than the 16,000 wastewater treatment plants and a large portion of these biosolids is disposed on land. Nuisance odors, the potential of pathogen transmission, and presence of toxic and persistent organic chemicals and metals in biosolids have for the most part limited the use of land applications. This paper presents zero-valent iron nanoparticles (1–100 nm) for the treatment and stabilization of biosolids. Iron nanoparticles have been shown to form stable and nonvolatile surface complexes with malodorous sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and methyl sulfides, degrade persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs and chlorinated pesticides, and sequestrate toxic metal ions such as mercury and lead. The end products from the nanoparticle reactions are iron oxides and oxyhydroxides, similar to the ubiquitous iron minerals in the environment. Due to the large surface area and high surface reactivity, only a relatively low dose (<0.1% wt) of iron nanoparticles is needed for effective biosolids stabilization. The iron nanoparticle technology may thus offer an economically and environmentally sustainable and unique solution to one of the most vexing environmental problems.
biosolids metal nanoparticle iron wastewater odor sulfide environment EHS