Engineering and Financial Analysis of a Wastewater Pant Upgrade
Municipal wastewater treatment plants treat wastewater such as domestic and industrial sewage and recirculates the clean water back into nature’s waterways. However, the wastewater treatment process is costly and complex. The cost of running a municipal wastewater treatment plant is funded via ratepayer fee dollars from customers and therefore receives a fixed budget for which to run the plant according to environmental standards. A local initiative was established to upgrade a Midwestern municipal wastewater facility to utilize biomass renewable energy to a greater extent than what is used by the wastewater facility. The first phase of the initiative tested the suitability of utilizing organic substrates from local industrial plants with the potential to produce larger amounts of biogas via anaerobic digestion. The analysis evaluated the technical and financial viability of utilizing biomass technologies to help power the facility efficiently and economically. The financial and technical analysis will include a cost-benefit analysis by comparing current and forecasted natural gas demand and costs for running heating the WWTP to biogas produced by the anerobic digesters. The results of the research study found that the industrial waste substrates are suitable for anaerobic digestion and yield a higher biogas potential than what is currently used for anaerobic digestion by the WWTP. The initial financial analysis found it is feasible and economical, for at least certain months of the year, for the WWTP to refrain from purchasing natural gas and instead utilize the produced biogas.