The first commercial facility in the U.S. to incorporate new technology that recovers phosphorus and other nutrients from wastewater and recycles them into environmentally-safe premium-quality commercial fertilizer opens June 10 in Portland, Ore.
The new technology is located in suburban Portland at Clean Water Services' Durham Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility (Tigard, Ore.). Clean Water Services, a water resource management utility serving more than 500,000 customers in urban Washington County west of Portland, owns and operates the technology in an innovative public/private partnership with Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, Inc. of Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Developed by Ostara, the new technology increases plant capacity and reduces maintenance costs while also creating a revenue-generating byproduct.
Clean Water Services and Ostara share revenue from the commercial sale of the fertilizer byproduct, which is being marketed throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest by Ostara under the brand name Crystal Green.
Bill Gaffi, general manager at Clean Water Services, said that partnering with Ostara provides a solid return on investment for the utility and its ratepayers.
"This technology will save our ratepayers money by extracting nutrients which would otherwise clog our pipes and reduce our plant's treatment capacity, while also creating a unique and environmentally safe commercial fertilizer product," said Gaffi. "We anticipate that the $2.5 million capital cost of incorporating this technology will be recovered within five years from a combination of Crystal Green revenues and operational cost savings of up to $500,000 per year."
Abrary said Clean Water Services' Durham facility is the first in the world to implement a full-scale commercial operation, where 100% of the wastewater stream is being treated with Ostara's nutrient recovery technology. A municipal wastewater treatment plant in Edmonton, Alberta, has been operating with the Ostara technology for more than a year, but it is not a full-scale operation like the commercial facility in Oregon.
Several other commercial applications of the Ostara technology are in planning and design stages after successful field trials since 2007 by municipalities, ethanol biofuel plants and food processing plants in the U.S. and Canada. The company estimates that approximately 200 plants in North America and several hundred plants in Europe and the rest of the world are candidates for the Ostara technology.
Abrary said treatment systems typically separate sewage sludge solids from liquids. Treated solids can be recycled as soil amendments, as the Durham facility does. Liquids are typically reprocessed back through the wastewater system, which adds costs to the system by clogging pipes with a concrete-like scale called struvite—the result of phosphorus and ammonia (nitrogen) combining with magnesium—and by consuming up to 25% of the system's capacity.
"Our technology integrates into the treatment system, processes the sludge liquids and recovers phosphorus and other nutrients—and then converts them into a high-quality environmentally friendly commercial fertilizer that can generate revenue for the local utility," said Abrary.
The Clean Water Services' Nutrient Recovery facility is projected to remove more than 90% of the phosphorus in the wastewater and produce 500 tons of Crystal Green fertilizer annually. Clean Water Services will share revenue from the commercial sale of the fertilizer with Ostara, and it is expected that the initial investment in the technology will be paid back within five years.