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Published on February 14th, 2017 | by James Ayre


US DOE Approves $1.2 Million In Funding For Pilot Hydrothermal Wastewater Processing Project (Biocrude & Methane Production)

February 14th, 2017 by  

The US Department of Energy has approved $1.2 million in federal funding for the development of a new pilot hydrothermal wastewater processing project by a consortium that includes Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), according to a new press release from SoCalGas.

In order to recover the federal funds, the pilot project will have to share a minimum of 50% of the costs. The lead in the consortium is the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation.

The project will utilize hydrothermal processing technology to convert wastewater solids to fuels — primarily into biocrude and methane, that is. So, rather than simply releasing human wastes into the environment following treatment, the project aims to use these wastes as feedstock for the production of biocrude and methane — fuels with a great deal of utilitarian value.

The pilot plant where this will be taking place will be located at a municipal wastewater treatment facility near Oakland, California.

The press release provides a bit more: “SoCalGas will help oversee the project’s design and assist in obtaining state and federal regulatory approvals and incentives. The new technology converts waste solids from a wastewater treatment plant into biocrude and methane gas using water, heat and pressure. The biocrude oil replaces fossil oil, providing green fuels with nearly zero net new carbon emissions. The methane gas can be used in the same ways as fossil natural gas.”

The director of business strategy and advanced technology at SoCalGas, Jeff Reed, commented: “SoCalGas and its partners have demonstrated that this process can very effectively convert wastewater solids into renewable natural gas, using existing infrastructure, to help replace fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This new technology could have an enormous impact on energy and waste. Converting the wastewater solids produced by treatment plants in the US with hydrothermal processing could produce about 128 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year and save treatment utilities $2.2 billion in solids disposal costs. A city of one million people could produce more than 600 million cubic feet of natural gas per year, save more than $7 million per year in disposal costs, and power nearly 7,000 vehicles per day.”

As alluded to above, the pilot project will be based out of a municipal wastewater treatment facility near Oakland — more specifically, out of the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District.

It’s a very interesting sounding pilot program, in my opinion. We’ll keep you posted as more news becomes available.

Photo by Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (CCCSD)

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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