The municipally-owned Milton Regional Sewer Authority (MRSA) serves many residential customers in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, USA. It also treats wastewater from ConAgra Foods, the food giant that produces Chef Boyardee*, Healthy Choice*, Andy Capp*, LaChoy*, and Gulden’s Mustard* products. The original Milton wastewater treatment plant was upgraded in 1975 and the MRSA recently invested in another plant upgrade dubbed the “Wastewater to Energy (Ww2E)” project.
By the Numbers
Like many municipal wastewater plants—especially those that service industrial clients—the MRSA requires large quantities of energy. The plant was spending more than $360,000 each year on electricity, a price that was expected to rise by 20-40% when Pennsylvania deregulated the energy industry. The MRSA wanted a cost-effective solution to help combat rising energy costs, and it knew that biogas produced during anaerobic wastewater treatment could help the authority consume less energy and save more money. It just needed the right type of cover to capture the gas.
The MRSA evaluated a number of cover options and selected Evoqua’s Geomembrane Technologies Inc. to custom-design and install two gas collection covers. Pilot testing proved that the incoming ConAgra wastewater could generate a biogas containing approximately 75% methane. The covers capture this valuable biogas so that it can be used in an electrical generation system at the plant. Approximately six cubic feet of biogas is produced per pound of chemical oxygen demand (COD) removed from the influent wastewater.
The MRSA’s choice to install the Evoqua’s Geomembrane Technologies™ brand covers as part of its wastewater treatment plant upgrade has resulted in significant operational and maintenance savings. Based on the results of the pilot test and estimates of anticipated future ConAgra flows, electrical generating equipment will be capable of producing between 600 kW and 1,300 kW of electricity using the biogas produced from treating the wastewater.
The electricity will be used to power the treatment process and the heat will be used to dry the remaining biosolids, which will be either sold as a soil amendment or fertilizer, or used as a renewable fuel at a nearby cogeneration plant. Overall energy consumption at the plant is expected to be reduced by approximately 30%. The MRSA will eliminate more than $300,000 in annual electricity costs and can potentially earn revenue by selling the excess electricity to the local utility.
The custom covers for the MRSA have greatly contributed to the MRSA’s Ww2E project. Not only is the authority saving on energy costs, but it is also helping to save the environment. Thanks to the creation of renewable energy from its wastewater, the MRSA has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels, as well as reduced carbon dioxide emissions. The covers also help contain foul odors that naturally occur from wastewater treatment.
*All brands are those of their respective owners.