The Clean Water Act of 1972 authorized the EPA to mandate stringent environmental standards for Wastewater Treatment (WWT). Most equipment installed pursuant to this Act has reached the end of its 20 – 25 year lifecycle. Over the next 12 years the EPA and Congressional Budget Office have projected that the U.S. WWT industry will need to spend more than $186 billion to upgrade its ageing, outdated, and energy intensive wastewater infrastructure.
This investment does not include the cost to build more than 300 new facilities, just to keep pace with population growth and urban expansion. Nor, does it include the cost to provide 30% more electricity; that DOE has determined will be needed by 2025. Nor, the cost to implement new wastewater reuse processes, that will undoubtedly be regulated and mandated to preserve water resources in order to meet current and future demands.
A direct result of these regulations is the daunting fact that Municipalities are recurrently overburdened by the ever-increasing financial, energy, and water mandates.
Industry efforts are underway, although limited, to mitigate the inefficient energy problems associated with WWT.
The municipal wastewater segment has more than 16,676 facilities of which 1,066 (6.4%) have flow rates greater than 5 million gallons per day (MGD) and 15,610 facilities (93.6%) with flow rates equal to or less than 5 MGD. Within this first group, only 203 have anaerobic digesters that produce methane gas for the subsequent generation of heat and power, designated by EPA as Combined Heat and Power (CHP). As for the second group, the EPA has determined those facilities with flow rates of 5 MGD or less to be the lower economical CHP limit, with the current anaerobic digester technology.
FDI’s energy producing Resource Recovery Plant technology will simultaneously address both the wastewater and energy problems; including the capacity to shatter the CHP lower limit, by recovering the untapped energy from the 15,610 WWT facilities with flow rates of 5 MGD or less. By capturing this abandoned energy, 122 million kilowatt hours, there will be enough to supply 11,200 homes with electricity for one year.
Energy, Water, and Environmental Sustainability:
Energy Potential in Municipal Wasteater