State-of-the-Art Renewable Energy Facility Features Vogelsang Equipment

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State-of-the-Art Renewable Energy Facility Features Vogelsang Equipment

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Until 2013, KB Compost Services was under contract with the city of Akron, Ohio, to operate the Akron compost plant. In 2013, the plant was transformed into a state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion operation that processes 100% of Akron’s sewage sludge from the Akron Water Reclamation Facility. KB Compost Services then changed its name to KB BioEnergy to reflect the change in process. The final dried biosolids are used as fertilizer and blended into products by KB BioEnergy’s parent company Kurtz Bros.    

KB BioEnergy continues to be under contract to operate the now named Akron Renewable Energy Facility, which converts biosolids from the city’s WRF into biogas. The biogas is then consumed by two 600 kW combined heat and power units (CHPs). Roughly 43% of the energy produced is in the form of heat and 44% is electricity totaling about 87% efficiency. The power generated by the on-site CHPs is consumed at the WRF and the REF. 

Even in its composting days, Vogelsang had been a supplier of pumps and solids reduction equipment to the plant. When the new anaerobic digestion facility was built, Vogelsang was the perfect fit since rotary lobe pumps are ideal for pumping sludge with 3 to 18% solids, including RAS, WAS and digested sludge.

Vogelsang pumps are used throughout the plant to move sludge into, between and out of digesters with a capacity of 2 million gallons. The sludge is heated to about 95 degrees F and remains in the tanks for approximately 30 days. Through anaerobic digestion, bacteria break down the sewage sludge. As the bacteria multiply, they consume part of the sludge and produce a methane-rich, burnable gas that is 60-65% methane, 30-35% carbon dioxide and 5% other gases. In comparison, natural gas is about 90% methane.

Eric Fox, the plant’s facilities maintenance manager, has praised the operation and maintenance of the Vogelsang units. “They last forever in this application,” he says of the line of pumps found in the mixing room, where a diluted polymer is mixed with raw sludge. The current pumps, 11 Vogelsang V100s, have been in place for seven years.

An additional 25 Vogelsang pumps are also found in other spots throughout the plant, often as replacements for other brands of pumps. “Vogelsang pumps have been much easier to maintain with just oil changes in the gear box and buffer chamber — we just follow the manual.”

KBBE runs some of the Vogelsang pumps 24 hours per day circulating digested sludge. Other pumps feed or remove sludge from the digesters and supply sludge to dewatering operations.

In addition to pumps, the plant also has three Vogelsang RotaCut RC5000 macerators that catch and shred rags and other solids before going into a centrifuge. “We put in the RotaCuts about five years ago. They have made operations much smoother. Before we put these in, we had to shut down to unclog pumps and pull rags from our centrifuge feed tubes.”

The anaerobic digestion technology used at the REF was developed by German company, Schmack Biogas AG. It is widely used in Europe, where animal and crop waste rather than sewage sludge is used. Vogelsang’s international headquarters is located in Germany as well and the company has been a major player in the European biogas industry. In fact, Schmack specs only Vogelsang pumps in its plants.



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