Weekly News Briefs: Researcher Harvests Energy from Ammonia

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Stanford University researcher Yaniv Scherson has developed a process that captures ammonia from wastewater, converts it to nitrous oxide, and then burns it to generate electricity.

 “That is not done anywhere else in the world, so this is a game-changer in our industry,” says Gary Darling, general manager of the Delta Diablo Sanitation District, which is where Scherson is completing a pilot project.

At the plant, nitrous oxide will be introduced to the methane-burning cogeneration engines with the goal of helping the plant consume less power from the grid. The process could eventually power 5 to 10 percent of the 16.5 mgd facility.

“I know a lot of wastewater plants are really focused on resource recovery with a goal of being energy neutral or net energy positive in the long run,” says Amanda Roa, the facility’s environmental compliance engineer. “I don’t think many plants are there yet, but there are a couple, and a lot of us are aspiring to do that.”

Source: American Society of Civil EngineerCBS San Francisco

Maui Adds Operator Training Program
The Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at the University of Hawaii, Maui College will offer a non-credit training session for entry-level water and wastewater treatment plant operators. The course will include technical classes and field experience. The college has recognized the need for operators as industry retirements increase. “The industry needs qualified personnel to fill these vacancies, as safe drinking water and a clean environment are so critically important for the protection of public health,” says Steve Parabicoli, wastewater operations superintendent. The training program is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Source: Maui News

Residents Petition Use of Land Application Biosolids
The pendulum swung back toward biosolids in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Pa., where town supervisors have been caught in a debate about fertilizers and the land application of biosolids. The township rescinded an earlier decision to pay $60,000 for fertilizers and lime that could be used on farming land instead of biosolids provided by local sewer authorities. In response to that decision, township residents petitioned the board and asked that it adopt a “bill of rights” to protect them from exposure to stench and declining property values. The town supervisors voted down the bill of rights, but agreed to discuss it at an upcoming workshop meeting.

Source: WFMZ

Name Change: From ‘Wastewater’ to ‘Resource Recovery’
When wastewater becomes a resource, it’s time for a name change. At the Swanton Wastewater Treatment Plant in Ohio, biosolids are now sent to Quasar, a waste-to-energy company based in Ohio, and the town has recognized the shift in how the wastewater plant is perceived. In accordance with a directive from the Water Environment Federation, Swanton is considering renaming the plant a “water resource recovery facility.”

“A name change would definitely recognize Swanton as being a leader in preserving the environment,” says Steve Geise, Swanton Wastewater Treatment Plant superintendent.

In 2013, the Swanton plant sent 300,592 gallons of biosolids to Quasar, which then produced enough methane gas to power nearly 10 average homes.

Source: LimaOhio Web site

To Court, To Court to Settle a Wastewater Bill
Unless the City of Clinton, N.J., changes its billing, four neighboring municipalities that send sewage to the town’s 2.3 mgd treatment plant say they’ll bring the dispute before a judge. The Clinton Township Sewage Authority has said its customers could face a 43 percent rate increase this year. Questions about town financing and allocations have popped up. Clinton charges its own sewer department rent for the land the treatment plant is on, which will increase from $140,000 to $390,000. That rate, along with other bookkeeping details, has prompted the surrounding towns to question the rate increase.

Source: Hunterdon County Democrat


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