Des Moines WRA plant turns sewage into energy

Sixteen communities in the Des Moines metro area are joint owners of the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) and together they have moved central Iowa into the future by installing new technology that turns sewage into energy. A MicroSludge System has been installed at the WRA facility. It is a technology that processes sewage sludge and converts the sewage sludge to biogas, which contains methane that can be used by power generators...

DES MOINES, IA, Dec. 12, 2007 -- Sixteen communities in the Des Moines metro area are joint owners of the Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) and together they have moved central Iowa into the future by installing new technology that turns sewage into energy. A MicroSludge System has been installed at the WRA facility. It is a technology that processes sewage sludge and converts the sewage sludge to biogas, which contains methane that can be used by power generators. The new system was installed this fall and data on cost savings will be collected for the first six months of operation.

This new source of energy generated by the wastewater plant can be used at the wastewater facility for a number of other operations, such as heating the buildings and therefore reduces the amount electricity that is purchased by the plant.

Paradigm Environmental Technologies Inc. the creator of MicroSludge says that the WRA system is the third full-scale MicroSludge System in operation and very first commercial installation in the United States. "MicroSludge allows wastewater treatment plants to generate clean, sustainable bioenergy from sewage. Wastewater treatment plants use considerable amounts of energy and are greenhouse gases generators, but with our technology, plants can become much more energy self-sufficient and reduce pollution," said Dr. Rob Stephenson, inventor of the process and Paradigm's Chief Technology Officer.

The MicroSludge installation at WRA has attracted considerable interest in North America and internationally. The Water Environment Research Federation, the wastewater industry's research arm, will include MicroSludge in a research project evaluating technologies that reduce sewage biosolids generated at wastewater treatment plants.

"The WRA has promoted beneficial reuse of human waste for many years, including recycling water for agricultural and recreational reuse in the Des Moines River as well as promoting the safe land application of biosolids," said WRA Director William Stowe. "The WRA now adds enhanced 'green energy production' to its accomplishments of sustainable uses. Through this additional investment in technology, the WRA continues to lead the metro Des Moines area in environmental stewardship that connects every household and business with environmentally sound energy management," Stowe added.

The technology has already demonstrated considerable benefits in earlier demonstrations. By converting much more of the sewage sludge to biogas, less sludge is left for disposal by the plant.

Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) is made-up of 16 metro area municipalities, counties and sewer districts in central Iowa. WRA's goal is protecting the public health and to enhance the environment by recycling wastewater and being the preferred treatment facilities for hauled liquid wastes.

Paradigm Environmental Technologies Inc. is a private company located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that has developed MicroSludge®, a patented technology to process wastewater at municipal sewage treatment plants and at industrial facilities.

###

More in Energy Management