Smouldering combustion as a treatment technology for faeces: Exploring the parameter space

L. Yerman*, Rory M. Hadden, J. Carrascal, Ivo Fabris, Daniel Cormier, Jose L. Torero, Jason I. Gerhard, Michal Krajcovic, Paolo Pironi, Yu-Ling Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The poor management of human excreta in developing countries is among the most prominent global issues due to its negative impact on public health. This work demonstrates for the first time that self-sustaining smouldering of faeces mixed with sand is a feasible alternative to incineration for rapid destruction of waste. Self-sustaining smouldering requires minimal energy input and pre-drying of faeces compared to incineration. This process ensures the elimination of biological hazards via long residence times (>20 min) at high temperatures (>400 degrees C). Surrogate faeces which exhibits similar energetic, thermal, and mechanical properties to real faeces are used in this study. The parameters controlling the combustion process including moisture content, airflow rate, and sand-to-faeces ratio are mapped to establish the range of conditions where self-sustaining smouldering of faeces can be achieved. Experiments were conducted within the ranges 0-75% for moisture content, 7-108 g/min for airflow rate and 2.75-11.9 g/g for sand-to-faeces (wet basis) ratio. Preliminary validation of the parameter space is done using real dog faeces. In this work, the parameter space defining the range of conditions where self-sustaining smouldering occurs is mapped. Results show successful self-sustaining smouldering of faeces for moisture contents of up to 60%, airflow ranging from 10 to 100 g/min, and wet sand-to-faeces ratio greater than 3.25. This proof-of-concept for a smouldering reactor to treat human solid waste demonstrates that smouldering of faeces could be the basis for a new, energy efficient waste treatment approach. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-116
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Smouldering combustion
  • Waste management
  • Faeces
  • Incineration
  • FLOW
  • PEAT


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