WERF Wants to Help Small Plants Overcome Biogas Barriers

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) is seeking proposals for research that will help wastewater treatment plants of all sizes overcome actual and perceived barriers and disincentives for biogas production and its use to generate heat and power or be sold in the natural gas market.

In particular, the project will provide owners and operators of small facilities (less than 4.5 million gallons per day) with strategies to overcome the size threshold of plants that can economically produce biogas and recover energy in some form. Through this research, WERF hopes to advance the wastewater sector one step closer to energy self-sufficiency.

Wastewater utilities are realizing opportunities to capture and use energy and resources in wastewater and residuals. However, there are often tradeoffs or barriers to maximizing the recovery of energy embedded in wastewater. A primary area of research necessary to promote the greater use of biogas (biomethane) for energy recovery is to evaluate the barriers to the generation of heat and power from biogas and promote the greater acceptance of anaerobic digestion with energy recovery as a management opportunity for wastewater solids.

Since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that fewer than 20 percent of the larger plants with anaerobic digestion operations produce combined heat and power (CHP), there must be either actual or perceived barriers to a broader use of these heat capture or energy recovery technologies by wastewater plants. For example, many anaerobic digesters funded by the Construction Grants Program (especially at small facilities) were abandoned or converted to storage tanks over the years.

WERF is collaborating with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to co-fund this research. The results will be made available to federal (EPA and U.S. Department of Energy) agencies and state agencies with the ability to remove barriers to the utilization of biogas for energy recovery and increase the implementation of these practices.

The deadline to submit proposals is 4 p.m., EDT on June 7. To access the request, visit www.werf.org/funding.

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