In today’s world, population growth and corresponding revenue growth is often slow or sometimes even negative. As a result, it is no longer good enough to run a cost-effective operation; utility managers are often challenged to find new ways of reducing operating costs and there is often a push for sustainability as well. Under such circumstances, we need to be creative and repurpose a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) from a Water Pollution Control Center to a Resource Recovery Center. Once we start thinking this way, it becomes clear that major money can be saved by offsetting operating costs with the recovery and sale of the main resources in wastewater: water, energy and fertilizers.
“In my previous role as founder and CEO of Zenon, I was focused on technology for meeting water quality requirements. In the twenty-first century, our challenge has shifted from meeting effluent quality to making our plants and our planet sustainable. In my current role as founder and CEO of Anaergia, I am proud to lead a company that offers a powerful set technologies capable of turning Wastewater Plants into truly sustainable Resource Recovery Centers.” – Andrew Benedek, Chairman and CEO Anaergia
Water: In California we have begun to fight water shortages. Water can be purified for recycling at a fraction of the cost of other new sources of water (such as desalination). The key technology for water reuse is immersed membrane technology. Anaergia’s Fibracast membrane is currently the most efficient membrane technology for reuse in the world, thanks to its highly efficient FibreplateTM ( fibers made in to a flat sheet) structure. This membrane operates in a smaller footprint, with lower energy and higher flux and easier maintenance than all other competing membranes.
Energy: Today, the energy in wastewater organics either goes untapped or it is converted to biogas and then electricity. The cost of the anaerobic digestion systems used to make biogas, however, are quite high and as a result only larger plants convert wastewater solids to energy. Furthermore, at best only 50% of a wastewater plant’s electricity need can be supplied this way. Anaergia has developed technologies to substantially lower the cost of digestion and at the same me enable the digesters to receive additional feedstock so a wastewater plant can easily and cost effectively produce more than a 100% of the plant’s power requirements, in essence turning a wastewater plant into a distributed power plant.
Fertilizers: After digestion, wastewater solids are usually dewatered before being land spread or landfilled at a significant cost. The liquid stream that is separated from the wastewater solids remains high in nutrients (especially ammonia), and is generally sent back to the head of the plant. If a plant has ammonia limitations, there can be very significant costs associated with ammonia destruction. Anaergia’s philosophy is to reduce these costs by recovering both the solids (through our PBM process) and the ammonia, producing valuable fertilizers. In this way a costly liability becomes an asset.
Put Your Stranded Assets To Work
WWTPs are often over designed; and since influent flows haven’t kept up with installed capacity, many WWTPs are left with underutilized equipment and stranded assets. This excess infrastructure can be redeployed to create revenue. Even fully loaded WWTPs without excess digestion capacity have the opportunity of transforming themselves into power-producing Resource Recovery Centers by increasing the capacity of their existing digesters. Conversion allows a significant increase in biogas production without the need for additional digester construction. The Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) demonstrated this innovative approach, which helped them triple the capacity of an existing digester and accept externally-sourced feedstock for co-digestion. The new biogas flows are used to generate electricity, satisfying the majority of the WWTP’s electrical demands.
Find Your Feedstock – FOG Isn’t Enough
One plentiful, reliable, and highly digestible feedstock is produced from the 5.6 million tons of food waste that Californians send to landfills each year. Anaergia is partnering with California’s solid waste industry to recover this food waste from solid waste streams, producing clean and digestible feedstock for anaerobic digestion that has higher energy potential and fewer physical contaminants than primary sludge.
Be a Part of California’s Bioenergy Solution
State Legislation is having an impact on how food waste is managed and how renewable electricity can be produced (AB 1826 mandates that organic waste is diverted from landfills and SB 1122 enables WWTPs to sell up to 3MW of electricity to Investor-Owned Utlities such as PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E). California is growing into a more sustainable mode of producing renewable energy from food waste, and WWTPs will play a central role.
Create New Revenue Streams
The benefits of co-digestion extend beyond environmental stewardship: Converting your WWTP into a Resource Recovery Center creates new sources of revenue. Selling electricity to the grid and collecting tip fees from imported feedstock are two obvious ways to create value. Anaergia’s partners go a step further to turn a potential problem (high ammonia concentrations in liquid streams) into a revenue stream by employing proprietary systems to create valuable fertilizer products for sale. Economically transforming WWTPs into revenue-generating resource recovery centers significantly contributes to the sustainability of our world, helping to protect the environment and sustain life for generations to come.
Northern California: Peter Kistenmacher 510.759.3076
Southern California: Dave Schneider 310.994.0272