It is once again time to showcase our iWWD Top Projects for the year. Last month, I mentioned how industrial water and wastewater has continued to trend in the industry, and how prevalent water reuse has become. The #1 Top Project this year embodies those characteristics of efficiency and sustainability in its use of anaerobic digestion to generate power.
When we get nominations for these awards, our editorial staff reviews all the entries individually and assign scores to each project. The K.B. Speciality Foods project was a clear standout from the others, and what really pushed it to that level was its detailed attention to its waste, the environment and its neighbors.
Since 2014, the facility has been zero-waste, diverting 90% of all its waste away from landfills. With that history and mentality, it approached upgrading its conventional wastewater treatment system, eventually landing on an anaerobic digestion process that can capture biogas and convert it to energy.
On the municipal side of the industry, this process has become increasingly popular. Facilities are finding ways to turn a profit with anaerobic treatment by capturing biogas for combined heat and power. Some, most notably the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Kenosha Wastewater Treatment Authority in Wisconsin, are even licensed to sell biosolids as fertilizer, namely Milorganite.
In Illinois, combined heat and power has seen an increase in adoption in the past five years. Facilities such as the Glenbard Wastewater Authority Plant and the Downer’s Grove Wastewater Treatment Center have included it in their processes. Downer’s Grove has even become a net-zero facility by bringing in and treating fats, oils and grease from restaurants.
For K.B. Speciality Foods, anaerobic digestion became an answer to reducing chemical and operating costs while also helping the plant become a better neighbor. By capturing the biogas in a dome, the dissolved air flotation (DAF) clarifiers were not necessary. In eliminating the DAF process and introducing a wood chip biofilter, the facility reduce odors coming from the plant, ultimately making it a better neighbor to those nearby.
These are just some of the things we evaluate when determining the best projects of the year, and to all projects listed in this issue, congratulations once again on your accomplishments. We hope you’ll have another great project to nominate next year!