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The Landis Sewerage Authority (LSA) has shown time and again that it seeks practices to improve its efficiency and sustainability.
The wastewater treatment plant and land application facility originally began with a treatment capacity of 7 mgd, which inadequately protected the area groundwater from the detrimental effects of constituents. And, as its service area grew, the plant needed to increase capacity. To meet these demands, the plant upgraded to 8.2 mgd secondary and tertiary treatment components, ultimately creating a more cost-effective and environmentally sound system.
Much like its treatment capacity upgrade, LSA sought to upgrade its energy efficiency. The plant began a project to design-build a receiving station to accept liquid food waste; cooking fats, oil and grease (FOG); and cow manure. The facility also grinds, heats, mixes and pumps the waste to the anaerobic digester to produce methane gas. To control odors, a biofilter was constructed.
The methane gas produced at the station is key to its success. The gas is processed through an engine to produce electricity and hot water. Similarly, the remaining liquid after heat treatment and digestion contains valuable nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which are used on the LSA farm to grow corn, hay, straw, wheat and rye. Thus, the receiving station repurposes the waste it encounters to create energy—and save money.
“The energy production story [is important],” said Dennis Palmer, P.E., P.P., executive director and chief engineer for LSA. “[We’re] saving or repurposing a waste (liquid food waste and fats) that would have went to a landfill or otherwise been disposed of, and turning it into a domestic source of energy.”
The project was not without challenges. The receiving station was partially funded by a federal U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant, obtained by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. LSA had to ensure it consistently met DOE standards on the facility. And to ensure its new biofilter was approved for operation, LSA had to obtain an air permit.
Despite these small setbacks, the project is doubly rewarding, as the LSA staff’s tenacity and expertise were instrumental in overcoming them. Executives are most proud of the fact that “we designed, specified and constructed [the facility] in-house with our own employees,” Palmer said.
Now that it’s complete, the receiving station offers benefits beyond the creation of energy. In July 2016, LSA hosted three Mandela Fellows from Africa through the Rutgers Mandela Washington Fellowship program. The program empowers young African leaders through academic and hands-on training and networking. At LSA, Fellows visited the facility to inspect and learn about its energy production capabilities, witnessing how the creation of energy can facilitate company efficiency and sustainability.
“The LSA likes to utilize and pursue new and innovative technology and projects to have a positive impact on the environment and renewable or domestic-based energy,” Palmer said.