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Energy costs are a significant part of utility operating budgets, and a growing number of utilities today endeavor to become energy neutral or even net-energy producers by recovering more energy from the treatment process than what they use. The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) has contracted with Black & Veatch, in partnership with AECOM, the North East Biosolids and Residuals Assn., and Hemenway Inc., to explore energy balance, reduction, recovery and production opportunities. The research project—Energy Balance and Reduction Opportunities, Case Studies of Energy-Neutral Wastewater Facilities and Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Research Planning Support (ENER1C12)—will help transfer industry knowledge and experience among utilities and provide guidance for achieving energy self-sufficiency.
Co-sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the 18-month study will include participation by 23 utility partners from the United States and Australia. The research team will identify ways for utilities to reduce demand, increase energy efficiency, recover energy and produce energy onsite by developing baseline energy flows for common wastewater treatment processes. The team will also document successes and obstacles at energy-neutral or near-net-neutral facilities and identify sustainable options for managing biosolids through TBL assessment of biosolids-to-energy recovery processes and other biosolids management practices.
Lori Stone, Biosolids Global Practice and Technology Leader for Black & Veatch, and Paul Kohl, Energy Program Manager at the Philadelphia Water Department, will lead the team as co-principal investigators.
Completion of WERF’s Barriers to Biogas Use for Renewable Energy (OWSO11C10) report in late July preceded kickoff of the new study; both research projects are part of the organization’s energy production and efficiency program.