Florida municipality will transform sludge into renewable energy
To dispose of sludge, also known as biosolids, the city contracted with Houston-based MaxWest Environmental Systems to adopt the company’s gasification system. The system converts sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants into renewable “green” energy.
“Compared to the projected cost of natural gas, a fossil fuel, Sanford will save $9 million over the 20-year life of our contract,” said Paul Moore, Sanford utility director. “This technology has provided us with the opportunity to save money while managing our waste stream and protecting the environment.”
MaxWest typically builds facilities at wastewater treatment plant sites, capturing the energy from organic sludge. The gasification system also can use methane and reduce existing odor problems.
To turn wastewater sludge into energy, the system relies on an enclosed primary gasifier to produce syngas. In a continuous integrated process, the syngas is processed in an enclosed thermal oxidizer to create renewable thermal energy. For Sanford’s installation, the thermal energy will replace natural gas to power a new dryer.
In larger MaxWest systems, sufficient thermal energy may be produced to generate renewable, or “green” electric power. In some cases, the renewable thermal energy also may be used to improve performance of the wastewater treatment plant.
“Traditional disposal methods for biosolids are becoming more expensive, publicly unacceptable and potentially harmful to the environment,” said Richard Heien, president of MaxWest. “Leading municipal utilities are searching for a low-cost environmentally friendly solution for biosolids disposal. Our system provides that solution. It eliminates costly transportation and potential air and water pollution related to the current disposal practices, landfill disposal or spreading it on open ground.”
Sanford will be the first municipality in North America to adopt the MaxWest gasification system. As such, the Sanford treatment site will serve as a showcase to demonstrate the technology to other municipalities.
“We are thrilled to incorporate the MaxWest gasification solution at our South Wastewater Reclamation Center,” said Sanford Mayor Linda Kuhn. “Not only is the MaxWest system cost-effective and efficient, it enables Sanford to be a leader in green disposal technologies. Our hope is that the rest of the country will look to us and follow.”
Additionally, for states with a Renewable Energy Credit program in place, the MaxWest system will be entitled to credits for using an alternative to fossil fuels.
The MaxWest system works well with animal, wood and crop wastes, as well as other forms of carbon-based waste such as plastic, making renewable green energy from disposal problems. MaxWest systems are currently operating at facilities converting wood, chicken and mixed wastes.
For additional information about MaxWest Environmental Systems, visit http://www.MaxWestEnergy.com/.