BioCycle February 2018
Alexandria, Virginia: Business Case For Codigestion
The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) recently awarded a contract to the Environmental Law Institute to conduct a research study, “Food Waste Co-Digestion at Wastewater Resource Recovery Facilities: Business Case Analysis (ENER19C17).” The project goal is to develop alternative sustainable business cases for wastewater resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) to codigest food waste, including fats, oil, and grease (FOG), food manufacturing residuals, and source separated organics. Project completion is scheduled for late 2018. A previous WE&RF project with the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority indicated that codigestion could be very beneficial to WRRFs, however adoption is limited due to economics such as cost of digestion and solids processing, waste characteristics, and technology choice and operations.
The key project objectives are to:
• Identify several sustainable business models focused on operational and environmental risk management and return on investment for codigestion of food waste at WRRFs
• Apply the innovation ecosystem framework to identify current drivers, impediments, and solutions to adoption of these business models
• Develop a report and short briefing documents on research findings to inform and stimulate adoption by the wastewater sector
Sun Valley, California: Food Waste Recovery Facility
Canadian technology developer Anaergia Inc. has entered into an agreement to construct an organics processing facility at Waste Management’s (WM) Sun Valley Recycling Park. This project is designed to recover food waste from Los Angeles’ municipal solid waste stream. Anaergia will build a 300 tons/day turnkey solid waste processing line at the WM facility that utilizes its patented Organics Extrusion Press (OREX), a technology that recovers organics from contaminated MSW through high pressure extrusion. The Sun Valley facility is expected to begin operations in 2019.
The extruded organics will be processed at Anaergia’s Rialto Bioenergy Facility in Rialto (CA). Biogas from the AD process will be converted into electricity and renewable natural gas (RNG), states the company. Digestate will be sold as a soil amendment. A portion of the RNG will be available to fuel WM’s compressed natural gas trucks.
Dublin, Ireland: Government Adopts Renewable Heat Plan
The Republic of Ireland released the details of its Renewable Heating Incentive, the “Support Scheme for Renewable Heat.” The new incentive is designed to financially support the replacement of fossil fuel heating systems with renewable energy for “large heat demand nondomestic users.” Firms that generate heat from renewable energy sources will receive substantial ongoing payments. It covers commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating, public sector and other nondomestic businesses and sectors. The aviation sector, large industrial plants and power generation companies are excluded. Under the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, Ireland has a target of 12 percent of energy consumed in the heat sector to come from renewable energy sources by 2020. Currently 6.8 percent of energy consumed in the heat sector is renewable, reports the journal.ie. The 2018 Irish budget allocated €7 million ($8.3 million) to fund the initial phase of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat in 2018.
One of the scheme’s support mechanisms is for new installations or installations that currently use a fossil fuel heating system and convert to using biomass heating systems or anaerobic digestion (AD) heating systems. This will be paid for over a period up to 15 years. The maximum tariffs paid will be €5.66 cents/kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy produced from biomass heating systems and €2.95 cents/kWh of energy produced from AD heating systems.
Port of Long Beach, California: RNG Key To Toyota Plant
Renewable natural gas (RNG) will help to fuel what is described as “the world’s first megawatt-scale, 100 percent renewable power and hydrogen generation station,” at the Toyota Motor North America Inc. logistics facility at the Port of Long Beach.
Every hour, the “Tri-Gen” facility will feed 20 million BTUs of RNG, derived from anaerobic digestion elsewhere in the state, into a molten-carbonate fuel cell that, through a chemical process, will produce 1.2 tons of hydrogen and 2.35 MW/day of electricity, along with heat. The hydrogen will fuel a heavy-duty class 8 truck, known as Project Portal, that is being tested in Toyota’s logistics services facility at the port, as well as Mirai fuel-cell sedans shipped from Japan through Long Beach, explains Craig Scott, Director of the Advanced Technologies Group at Toyota Motor North America.
The electricity will supply the Toyota facility, with any excess sold to the grid under the state’s Bioenergy Market Adjustment Tariff program, a feed-in tariff for bioenergy renewable generators less than 3 MW in size. The project, which will also include one of the world’s biggest hydrogen fuelling stations, is to be in operation in 2020. It’s part of Toyota’s push to turn fuel-cell vehicles into a mainstream transportation technology. “Tri-Gen is a major step forward for sustainable mobility and a key accomplishment of our 2050 Environmental Challenge to achieve net zero CO2 emissions from our operations,” says Doug Murtha, Toyota’s group vice-president, strategic planning.
The Tri-Gen plant will be built and operated by FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCE), based in Danbury, Connecticut, which describes itself as “a global leader in delivering clean, efficient and affordable fuel cell solutions.” FCE is negotiating with three or four potential RNG suppliers, which operate anaerobic digesters and would upgrade the biogas they produce and inject it into the pipeline grid, explains Tony Leo, FCE’s vice-president of application engineering and new tech development. Under California’s “directed biogas project” designation, “for every BTU of natural gas we take out of the pipeline, our supplier will inject a BTU of RNG,” says Leo.
The fuel cell system is designed to be small enough to be located near industrial hydrogen users and filling stations, eliminating the need for long-distance hauling of hydrogen. “Small scale hydrogen production has been attempted before, but high cost due to economies of scale has limited the commercial impact,” according to an FCE report from last March. “By coproducing hydrogen with two other value streams (power and heat), this approach solves the scale problem.
In the Long Beach project, RNG will be sent directly to the fuel cell stacks, where it will be reformed to hydrogen before reacting electrochemically to make electricity. The thermal energy required by the reforming process is provided by fuel cell waste heat, eliminating the need to burn additional fuel. Costs and funding arrangements for the project have not been disclosed.
State College, Pennsylvania: AD Role In Manned Space Missions
Penn State University researchers have been investigating how future long-term manned space missions will effectively recycle water and nutrients as part of a life support system. Biological waste treatment is less energy intensive than physicochemical treatment methods, yet anaerobic methanogenic waste treatment has been largely avoided due to slow treatment rates and safety issues concerning methane production. However, methane is generated during atmosphere regeneration on the International Space Station. This research suggests waste treatment via anaerobic digestion, followed by methanotrophic growth of Methylococcus capsulatus to produce a protein- and lipid-rich biomass that can be directly consumed or used to produce other high-protein food sources such as fish.
To achieve more rapid methanogenic waste treatment, the researchers built and tested a fixed-film, flow-through, anaerobic reactor to treat an artificial wastewater. During steady-state operation, the reactor achieved a 97 percent chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal rate with an organic loading rate of 1,740 grams/day/m3 and a hydraulic retention time of 12.25 days. The reactor also was tested on three occasions by feeding about 500 g COD in less than 12 hours, representing 50 times the daily feeding rate, with COD removal rates ranging from 56 to 70 percent — demonstrating the ability of the reactor to respond to overfeeding events. While investigating the storage of treated reactor effluent at a pH of 12, they isolated a strain of Halomonas desiderata capable of acetate degradation under high pH conditions. The nutritional content of the Halomonas desiderata strain was then tested, as well as the thermophile Thermus aquaticus, as supplemental protein and lipid sources that grow in conditions that should preclude pathogens. The M. capsulatus biomass consisted of 52 percent protein and 36 percent lipids, and the Thermus aquaticus biomass consisted of 61 percent protein and 16 percent lipids.
London, England: Renewable Energy Capacity Reaches 39 Gigawatts
Installed renewable energy capacity in the United Kingdom reached 38.9 Gigawatts (GW) in the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest government figures, up 4.4 GW year on year. Of that total, solar photovoltaics represents 12.6 GW, followed by onshore wind (almost 12.5 GW), offshore wind (6.1 GW), plant biomass (2.9 GW), and large-scale hydro (around 1.5 GW). Landfill gas and energy from waste collectively make up around 2.1 GW; generation from anaerobic digestion is 450 MW and small-scale hydro represents 390 MW. In terms of power generated, onshore wind delivered the most output in the third quarter of 2017, just short of 5.6 terawatt hours (TWh).