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California reclamation authority marks start-up of biogas production

Advanced biogas system supplied by Anaergia, Inc.

The Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on 26 September to mark the successful start-up of the operation of its new OmnivoreTM biogas production system. The equipment was supplied by Anaergia, Inc., and is funded in part by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program.

Though Anaergia has provided high solids digestion technologies to meet the needs of customers in Europe, the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority retrofit is its first such system in North America.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that we can operate our existing infrastructure more efficiently,” said Logan Olds, general manager of the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority. “With recuperative thickening, or even with traditional digesters, the ability to co-digest an additional waste stream can bring added value to the facility — whether it be through minimizing tipping fees or by producing power from the additional methane that is generated as a result of the decomposition.”

The start-up of the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority Omnivore project is significant to the California Energy Commission and to Anaergia, because it demonstrates how wastewater treatment plants can increase digester loading and biogas production using existing infrastructure.1 The innovation includes Anaergia’s high solids mixers and recuperative thickener, which change an ordinary digester into a high-solids OmnivoreTM digester. The OmnivoreTM retrofit enables the authority to triple the digester’s solids content and biogas production rate. The Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority will convert the additional biogas into electricity to meet part of the wastewater treatment facility’s electrical demand. 

1. Municipal wastewater treatment is typically an energy intensive process, and many facilities utilize biogas that is produced as a by-product of treatment to generate energy and offset a portion of their electrical needs. The electrical generation installation costs can be prohibitive unless biogas production rates are relatively high. Treatment facilities may accept additional waste streams to increase biogas production, such as food waste and fats, oils and grease, but the existing anaerobic digesters which produce the gas often cannot be loaded with this external feedstock, and so this typically requires construction of additional digester capacity.

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