In the spirit of this week’s Earth Day celebrations, the American Biogas Council (ABC) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will help accelerate organics recycling by jointly promoting the value of resource recovery, specifically the use of energy and products produced from biogas systems at wastewater treatment facilities.
“WEF is thrilled to formalize our commitment to a broader and deeper working relationship with the American Biogas Council,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “Our organizations have a shared interest in the recognition that energy derived from biosolids, using anaerobic digestion is a valuable renewable resource. We look forward to working with ABC in promoting opportunities for the beneficial use of biogas and digested residuals.”
WEF and ABC believe that wastewater treatment plants are not waste disposal facilities, but rather water resource recovery facilities that produce clean water and, through the use of biogas systems, yield renewable energy, recover nutrients (such as phosphorus and nitrogen) and produce valuable, nutrient-rich soil amendments that reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers. Biogas Systems process organic materials, like the solids, fats, oils, and grease removed by wastewater treatment, in controlled, fully-enclosed, natural biological systems that capture the methane to create renewable electricity and fuel.
There is a long history of using biogas as a reliable, and renewable source of fuel that can be used in engines, turbines, and fuel cells for electricity generation as well as for combined heat and power (CHP). CHP, electricity generation with the capture of the waste heat, is an efficient, clean and reliable approach to generating power and thermal energy. Today, there are over 2,000 operating biogas facilities in the U.S. and more than 1,300 of them are at wastewater treatment facilities. Yet, the potential for growth is significant. There are at least 4,000 wastewater treatment facilities in the U.S. where new biogas systems could be installed for converting organic waste into renewable energy and valuable soil products.
Specifically, the MOU partners support: the beneficial use of biogas, digested materials and biosolids as an economically and environmentally sound energy and waste management solution for communities; the use of proven technologies that facilitate energy and nutrient recovery; encouraging federal and state legislation that promotes the use of biogas as a renewable energy source; proactive communications and public outreach to continue to build a strong base of support for products made from digested materials; continued research and sound science in regards to biosolids management; and the development of state and federal regulations.
“In the U.S. we could build 12,000 more biogas systems and one third of them can be built at wastewater treatment facilities. Wastewater biogas projects are extremely important to growth of the overall American biogas industry,” said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council. “We’re extremely pleased to continue our relationship with the Water Environment Federation under this MOU. A significant opportunity exists to utilize existing wastewater digester capacity to recycle other organic materials, like the billions of pounds of food that Americans waste each year.”