The Brigham Young University/Verde collaboration was initiated in 2016, based on over ten years of research and development amongst various team members. Renewable Energy Innovations joined the effort in 2017 to commercialize the technology to enhance renewable energy production through biological pretreatment systems, anaerobic digestion-related processes, and biogas filtration technologies. This collaboration has led to four patents related to the technology proposed herein and commercialization of advancements including microcalorimetry systems and regenerable biogas filtration mechanisms.
Renewable Energy Innovations understands the primary economic benefit of implementing this pretreatment technology is the ability to reduce or eliminate the expense of transporting and disposing of Waste Activated Sludge (WAS) in landfills. This biological pretreatment technology transforms or converts waste biomass into a number of commodities providing sustainable solutions for the Utah Lake Initiative.
It is estimated that the United States generates between 8-15 million dry tons of municipal sludge per year. Conversion of this sludge into methane implies the potential to generate up to 880 terawatt hours (TWh) of biopower. To place this in context, this figure exceeds the total electrical production of hydro, wind, and solar in the United States during 2017.
Conventional carbon conversion efficiency to methane is poor (5-10%) and WAS has rarely used for biopower applications. Instead, WAS is usually disposed of in landfills (costly), mixed with green waste and composted for agricultural use (social issues with use in this fashion), or incinerated for industrial processes (inefficient and costly). Furthermore, WAS is increasingly facing state and local ordinances that either severely limit or outright ban land applications due to public concerns (e.g. health or smell). Such public actions further motivate the need for alternative, socially acceptable utilization. This pretreatment method is environmentally friendly and increases the conversion to methane (>70%), making biological pretreatment a highly viable opportunity for utilizing this waste stream.
C. bescii bacteria has shown favorable results in solids pretreatment digestion process
to hydrolyze and enable the digestion of cellulosic material. This bacteria and new pretreatment digestion process has been shown to be successful in enhancing the digestion of a wide variety of feedstocks, including Waste Activated Sludge (WAS). The use of C. bescii bacteria in a pretreatment step ahead of a conventional anaerobic digestion process at Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRF) and significantly improves Volatile Solids Reduction (VSR), dewaterability, and increased biogas production.
Renewable Energy Innovations will commercialize this exciting technology for all the Wastewater Treatment Facilities as well as the Large Dairy operations on the Westside of Utah Lake. This new process will produce 3 times biogas, generating more methane and CO2, converting more of the solids, diverting much more from landfills. This is sustainability at its best as we work with Mother Nature to solve some very difficult environmental issues.