Utilization of different plant species for dewatering of sewage sludge


Bench-scale and pilot-scale experiments were conducted in an outdoor environment to study the ability of some plant species in dewatering of sewage sludge collected from biological activated sludge treatment. In the bench-scale experiments, four types of plants were tested, including water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), common reed (Phragmites austuralis), Samar (Cyperus alopecuroides), and El Nesila (Panicum echinochloa). Sludge dewatering in the plant reactors was compared with that in the control reactors (no plants). The bench-scale experiments were conducted in reactors with capacities of 17 L. All plants showed a growth in the sewage sludge matrix. High dewatering efficiencies of sewage sludge were obtained with the use of each type of plant, as compared with those in the controls. Among other plants tested in the current study, water hyacinth proved to have the highest dewatering efficiency and was selected for further testing in a pilot-scale experiment. Two identical drying beds were constructed as a pilot-scale, each with its own multi-layered underdrainage system. The plants were added to one of the beds while the other bed served as a control. The pilot study showed that the use of water hyacinth in conventional sludge drying beds can triple the sludge dewatering capacity of these beds. In addition, the quality of the dewatered sludge was also improved compared with that found in conventional drying beds.

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All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article (and the files of its supplementary materials).


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The American University in Cairo provided logistical support to this research with the needed space to install and carry out the different experiments in this research. The support also included facilitating the use of the Environmental Engineering Laboratory at the University for the Analyses of the collected samples.

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AGA collected the plants from the drain and the sludge samples from the treatment plants. AGA transferred the collected sludge and plants to the location of experiments, and she grew the plants. AGA also conducted the bench-scale and the pilot-scale experiments; collected the samples for analysis, and prepared the raw data. ASE supervised the experimental work, analyzed and interpreted the data collected from the experiments, and was a major contributor in writing the manuscript and preparation of the graphs. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ahmed Shafik El-Gendy.

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El-Gendy, A.S., Ahmed, A.G. Utilization of different plant species for dewatering of sewage sludge. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-12982-y

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  • Water hyacinth
  • Common reed
  • El Nesila
  • Samar
  • Phytotechnology
  • Phytodewatering
  • Sludge-drying beds