RENO, Nev., Sept. 23 (UPI) — An experiment to transform wastewater sludge into electrical power is being successfully tested at a Nevada wastewater treatment plant, researchers say.
University of Nevada, Reno, researchers say the immediate goal is producing enough power on site to meet the plant’s electrical needs, a university release said.
“We are very pleased with the results of the demonstration testing of our research,” Chuck Coronella, UNR associate professor of chemical engineering, said. “The process to dry the sludge to make it burnable for a gasification process, which could then be transformed into electricity, is working very well.
“This is an important step for our renewable energy research, processing about 20 pounds an hour of sludge in a continuous-feed system to produce about 3 pounds an hour of dried powder.”
The technology is an experimental carbon-neutral system. The solid fuel it produces will be analyzed for its suitability as a fuel, and the refrigerator-size demonstration unit will help researchers determine the optimum conditions for a commercial-sized operation.
“The beauty of this process is that it’s designed to be all on-site, saving trucking costs and disposal fees for the sludge,” Victor Vasquez, a faculty member in chemical engineering, said. “It uses waste heat from the process to drive the electrical generation. It also keeps the sludge out of the landfill.”
Estimates show a full-scale system has the potential to generate 25,000 kilowatt-hours per day to help power the local reclamation facility, researchers say.
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