A Regional Approach to Sustainable Energy
Biosolids are the nutrient rich natural by-product of wastewater treatment. They are produced by removing the organics from municipal sewage - the majority of which comes from residential homes.
Over 158,000 metric tons of “dry solids” are produced annually in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Biosolids to Energy Coalition is committed to creating energy from biosolids using state-of-the art technology to generate clean and renewable energy resources of value to society and the environment.
Biosolids contain latent energy that can be harnessed via capture and combustion of methane gas or via direct combustion. The conversion process involves heating the material to break down the solids and create gases that are converted to energy. Converting biosolids to energy relies on technologies including pyrolysis, gasification, thermo oxidation, fluidized bed reactor and arc plasma.
Local wastewater agencies can help achieve state and federal goals of meeting electricity and low carbon fuel needs with renewable sources. The Bay Area Biosolids to Energy Project is working to capture the energy within biosolids on a larger scale and in a more effective and efficient method. Read more...
Producing energy from biosolids is an emerging field with significant advancements in technology, research and development currently taking place. BAB2E pursues a multi-pronged approach that includes:
In 2014, BAB2E secured language in the House and Senate Energy & Water Appropriations bills directing biosolids feedstock to be included under Department of Energy renewable energy program funding. The Coalition also supported a grant proposal to the California Energy Commission for a commercial-scale project proposed by Synagro/SCFI. Successful grant recipients will be announced in early 2015.
The Coalition issued a request for proposals in 2013 and is now in discussions with the team of Synagro/SCFI regarding a proposed biosolids to energy facility. SCFI’s AquaCritox® technology uses Hydro Thermal Oxidation, an oxidation process that converts organic materials into carbon dioxide and water. Aquacritox® was featured on the Discovery Channel “Dean of Invention” Show.
Commercial-scale demonstration of biosolids to energy requires large capital investment that is difficult to obtain without a revenue stream; yet agencies cannot commit a revenue stream without commercial- scale demonstration. It is expected that initial projects will require state and federal assistance to help offset the higher costs. However, once initial projects are established, costs are expected to come down. BAB2E goals are closely tied to state and federal policy goals of renewable energy development and greenhouse gas reduction; and the state and federal government have an interest and role in addressing this challenge by assisting with the funding gap.
Significant work is taking place to develop technologies that can cleanly and efficiently convert biosolids to usable forms of energy including electricity and transportation fuel. As part of the Coalition's desire to be incubators of technology, within the BAB2E, Coalition agencies are sponsoring three different technology demonstration projects. These demonstration projects are at different stages of design, funding, and testing. BAB2E in also participating in a program called Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT) sponsored by the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) to foster technology development to meet industry challenges.