At a time when utilities around the world are searching for “greener” energy solutions, one new waste-to-energy plant is using cutting-edge technology to convert biosolids from nearby wastewater treatment plants into a renewable fuel that will be used to partially power local cement kilns. The $160-million SlurryCarb facility, expected to go online in the first quarter of 2009 in Rialto, Calif., is expected to use less energy to treat and recycle biosolids than traditional wastewater treatment plants, and will be the first commercial application of its kind in the world.
The plant will convert 675 wet tons of biosolids from five municipalities in the Los Angeles region into 145 tons per day of renewable “E-fuel,” which will be used as an alternative to coal in local cement kilns. Project officials say the process differs from conventional methods of drying biosolids by using less heat to remove water from sludge and using methane gas created during anaerobic digestion to power dryers within the plant, reducing the need for natural gas or other energy sources.
Kevin Bolin, CEO of Atlanta-based EnerTech Environmental, is credited with helping California municipalities find a new fuel source to help the state meet its renewable portfolio standard. He founded the firm in 1992 to make commercially viable the SlurryCarb process invented by his grandfather. Robert Horvath, chief of technical services for Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, says, “As alternatives such as land application are threatened, this project provides a completely different approach to biosolids management.”