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Biosolids, commonly referred to as sewage sludge, are the leftover sludge from wastewater treatment. Biosolids are considered organic solids derived from the sewage treatment processes that are in a state that they can be managed to sustainably utilize their nutrient, soil conditioning, energy, or other value (i.e. achieve minimum standards for classification as T3 and C2 Biosolids). The solids that do not meet these criteria are defined as sewage sludge. They are used as natural fertilizer and waste product and offer an eco-friendly method for substituting chemical fertilizers. Wastewater treatment is one of the essential processes to produce biosolids owing to the depletion in energy resources, increase in population, and rise in urbanization.

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Wastewater is treated when it reaches a plant, and in the process organic matter and nutrients are removed, thereby creating solid waste. This waste is further treated to remove odor and harmful organisms, thus resulting in the formation of biosolids. The final quality of biosolids produced depends on the quality of the sewage entering the treatment plant and the treatment process. Biosolids are graded according to their chemical composition and the level of pathogens remaining after production. They are rich in minerals and nutrients, and are increasingly used in a variety of sectors, ranging from agriculture (used in the form of soil conditioner and fertilizer) to energy.

Biosolids Market: Dynamics and Trends

Biosolids are employed in various applications. Major applications include agriculture (crop fertilizer), water treatment, energy recovery, mine reclamation, and crop fertilizer. Rise in agricultural activities across the globe is expected to boost the adoption of biosolids in the agricultural sector. Heat generation using biosolids as fuel is the major application in energy production. Implementation of stringent government emission laws is considered a major factor driving the biosolids market. This allows wastewater (sludge) from chemical plants and factories to be treated in an acceptable level. This boosts the usage of biosolids. Biosolids provide an eco-friendly way of replacing hazardous chemical fertilizers. Treated sludge or biosolids are used in a wide range of applications; of this, agriculture is the dominant application of the biosolids market.

Limited technological advancements is a key factor restraining the biosolids market. High capital expenditure and significant operating costs have also been hurdles for the biosolids market.

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The biosolids market is currently expanding in developed economies in Europe and the Americas. Developing countries present immense opportunities for the biosolids market, mainly due to the prevalence of vast agricultural activities. Rapid consumption of biosolids in agricultural and non-agricultural applications across the globe and emerging applications related to energy are anticipated to drive the biosolids market in the near future.