Pioneer in energy self-sufficiency and sustainable phosphorus use

KOPF SynGas plant in Koblenz’s large-scale sewage treatment plant handed over to municipal wastewater treatment plant


On 28.04.2022 the official handover of the KOPF SynGas plant with CHP module took place in the second largest municipal sewage treatment plant in Rhineland-Palatinate. The power plant for generating electrical energy from dried sewage sludge is maintained by Kopf SynGas GmbH & Co. KG and operated for the municipal wastewater treatment plant.

The handover is a significant milestone for the “SusTreat” pilot project of Stadtentwässerung Koblenz, which is funded by the EU from the “LIFE+” program. When it was presented in 2012, the former environment minister of the Rhineland-Palatinate state government, Margit Conrad, already designated this project as a “lighthouse” project in terms of energy efficiency throughout Europe. “The aim was to achieve sustainability at all levels and to generate energy on our own,” explains Bernhard Mohrs, plant manager at Stadtentwässerung Koblenz.
In order to supply the large sewage treatment plant as self-sufficiently as possible, the operator relies on the high energy content of the dried sewage sludge and the innovative KOPF SynGas process. In this respect, Stadtentwässerung Koblenz and the other project participants are playing a pioneering role. They demonstrate that sustainability and resource conservation can be achieved at all levels. At the same time, they meet the legal requirements and specifications in the area of energy saving, CO2 minimization and phosphorus recovery.

As an elementary component of the “SusTreat” pilot project funded by the EU from the “LIFE+” program, the SÜLZLE KOPF SynGas thermal sewage sludge recycling system has been making a significant contribution on the way to complete energy self-sufficiency for the entire Koblenz large-scale sewage treatment plant since 2020.

“We are very satisfied with the performance and emission values of the KOPF SynGas plant,” says Joachim Hölle, authorized signatory of Sweco GmbH in Stuttgart, which has been supporting the innovation project from the beginning as planning partner of the city of Koblenz. Björn van Deest, Managing Director of SÜLZLE KOPF SynGas, summed up on the day of the official handover: “The energetic potential of the sewage sludge is being fully exploited and enables a modern use of the resource. We are thus making a local contribution to the decarbonization of municipal energy consumers – without environmentally damaging transports and at a calculable price.”

The innovative technology of SÜLZLE KOPF SynGas has proven to be particularly advantageous in this regard: Thanks to the compact plant design, the module for thermal sludge utilization could be set up directly on the sewage treatment plant site in Koblenz and integrated into the existing network. “In addition, the process can be used to convert the energy bound in the sewage sludge particularly efficiently. For this purpose, we convert the synthesis gas produced into electrical energy in a highly efficient manner in a CHP unit,” emphasizes Dr. Alexander Neagos, also managing director of SÜLZLE KOPF SynGas, a joint venture of the two medium-sized company groups SÜLZLE from Rosenfeld and AVAT Automation from Tübingen.

State-of-the-art process control technology makes it easier for the operator to monitor and control the plant. It also minimized the required presence times for plant personnel. The phosphorus contained in the sewage sludge is discharged via the SynGas ash produced in the thermal recycling process. This can then be used, for example, as an additive in the fertilizer industry. In this way, phosphorus, an essential raw material for survival, is returned to the environment without pollutants and the material cycle is closed.

The flexible, future-proof process of sewage sludge recycling will also be the focus of attention at this year’s IFAT, the world’s leading trade show for water, sewage, waste and raw materials management in Munich. Climate-friendly sludge treatment from a single source: SÜLZLE KOPF SynGas and SÜLZLE KLEIN cover the entire process of thickening, dewatering, drying, sewage sludge recycling and energy recovery, as well as pollutant elimination. In addition, visitors* can virtually immerse themselves in the world of drying and thermal sewage sludge recycling for the first time at the SÜLZLE booth 221/320 in Hall A2 using VR glasses.