“We can’t afford to have waste be just waste.” That’s the thinking behind an innovative new project in Washington, DC that generates power from the treatment of sewage waste. The thermal hydrolysis system, created by the Norwegian company, Cambi, involves a type of pressure cooker that sterilizes concentrated solids and makes them easier for microbes to digest. The methane created by digestion is then used to create the steam that contributes to the cooking process, helping the utility meet one third of it’s power needs and save around $10 million a year on energy. Additionally, the new system will help the utility save $2 million a year in treatment chemicals and $11 million a year on transportation costs, as the waste volume is significantly reduced and even usable for consumer grade compost. Since utilities use 4% of the US’s overall energy, this is a great opportunity to reduce the energy consumption in a community.
Climate Protection: Lowers non-renewable energy use of treatment plants
Energy & Mobility: Creates one third of the required energy for the waste treatment plant
Food & Water: Provides a way to treat water with less energy
Jobs & Assets: Saves money on energy costs, waste transportation, and treatment chemicals and allows for sale of resulting compost
Connection: Allows individuals to participate in the power generation process (!!)
This post is part of a series on examples of multisolving, or climate-smart policies that simultaneously work to mitigate climate change while providing co-benefits such as the ones described above. The multiple benefits analysis was done using the FLOWER framework.