MUSCAT: Nama Water, the sole national water utility serving much of the Sultanate of Oman, says it is studying the feasibility of producing biogas from wastewater sludge – a promising Waste-to-Energy initiative that will contribute to the country’s Net Zero goals.

It is the latest in a series of initiatives by predominantly energy and public sector enterprises, aimed at driving the growth of a circular economy in alignment with sustainability goals set of in Oman’s 2040 Vision.

Other initiatives of this kind, currently in various stages of development and implementation, include power generation from municipal waste, flare-to-power, biogas and power from biomass, biofuels from used cooking oil (UCO), and even Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from agri-oils.

According to a key official of Nama Water, the Waste-to-Energy initiative centres on the application of anaerobic digestion – a series of biological processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen – to produce biogas.

This approach also opens up a potential pathway for the production of green aviation fuels, such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and Low-Carbon Aviation Fuel (LCAF), said Dr Intisar al Sulaimi, Chief Process Engineer – Nama Water.

Speaking at the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) forum hosted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Muscat recently, Dr Intisar said the Waste-to-Energy concept being explored by Nama Water offers “a very cost-effective solution” to the challenge of managing the environmental and public health concerns associated with wastewater.

A feasibility study, currently being implemented by Nama Water, will examine both the financial and technical aspects of utilizing anaerobic digestion technology to produce biogas from sewage sludge, she said.

In conjunction with this study, the utility is also developing a sludge management strategy, which will also help identify sewage treatment plants (STPs) suited for the deployment of this technology. Work on the strategy is due to be completed by the year-end, she added.

Significantly, biogas and other biofuels production from wastewater will open up a promising new revenue stream for Nama Water. The state-owned utility – part of Nama Group – currently generates revenues from the sale of treated effluent, as well as compost processed from sludge.

Nama Water oversees a network of around 60 sewage treatment plants (STPs) distributed across the country (with the exception of Dhofar Governorate) with a combined capacity in excess of 300,000 m3/day.

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