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Kubota to turn sludge into electricity with the help of Viking

Viking Heat Engines is currently working with Kubota Corporation, the Japanese tractor, heavy-duty machinery and agricultural equipment manufacturer, to turn sewage sludge into electricity to be used at sludge incineration factories across the country.

Kubota, which is also well-known for developing and producing environmental products, has produced and sold many sludge incineration factories in Japan. Here, vast amounts of sewage sludge from wastewater treatment processes are received every day. The sludge is filtered and dried before being burned, and the steam created in the process now has the potential of becoming electricity, thanks to Viking’s waste heat recovery technology.

Vast amounts of sewage sludge from wastewater treatment processes are received at sludge incineration factories in Japan every day. The sludge is filtered and dried before being burned, and the steam created in the process now has the potential of becoming electricity, thanks to Viking’s waste heat recovery technology.

The reasons for burning and melting sludge are twofold: firstly to get rid of any heavy metals that have accumulated in it; and secondly to recover phosphorus, which there is a lot less of in the world today and is an important component in fertilizers.

Geir Robstad, Chief Technical Officer at Viking, says: “Kubota sees the possibility to use part of the steam created during the incineration or burning process and turn it into electricity. So instead of having to buy extra electricity from the local energy companies, the factories will be using the excess steam to produce the electricity needed for their processes.”

Robstad says Kubota sees many other uses for the technology developed by Viking, and is also looking into the possibility of producing its own CraftEngines for the Japanese and Southeast Asian markets in the future.

Geir Robstad, Chief Technical Officer at Viking, surrounded by members of the research and development department at Kubota.

“They regard us as having the best ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) technology on the market,” he says. “They value the fact that we’re flexible when it comes to heat source and load. Our machine can adapt to the amount of sludge and steam being processed, so if the factory receives less sludge than expected, our system will automatically adapt to the new circumstances. We can also easily scale up to the machine, depending on how much sludge is being processed and the amount of steam being produced. Moreover, the CraftEngine uses well-known components and production methods from the engine manufacturing industry that Kubota recognises from its own production.”

Kazuki Nishimura, Associate Manager, Water & Environment R&D Department at Kubota, adds: “Based on Kubota’s own long history as a piston engine manufacturer, we recognise and highly value Viking Heat Engines' piston-based ORC technology - especially its' durability and flexibility when it comes to load adaptation, as well as the possibility to scale it up in the future.”

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