UBCO, City do biosolid energy research

Researchers at UBC Okanagan are working with the City of Kelowna to study how biosolid waste from the Waste Water Treatment Facility can be converted into a reusable energy source.

A multidisciplinary research team led by UBC professor Cigdem Eskicioglu will assess and compare the City's current biosolids disposal process with an alternative method that uses anaerobic digestion.

Anaerobic digestion breaks down organic waste in the absence of oxygen. The gas produced from this process – primarily methane and carbon dioxide – can be used to generate electricity and heat.

"The City wants to explore the possibility of having an anaerobic digester at the Glenmore Landfill,” says Mark Watt, the City’s Integrated Systems Project Manager.

“It could help the City meet provincial greenhouse emissions reduction targets and potentially produce energy for use in the landfill operation or elsewhere.”

Eskicioglu's research team was recently awarded a $454,540 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to complete the project.

"Biosolids from the Kelowna Wastewater Treatment Facility are currently trucked to a composting facility and then turned into Ogogrow, a natural fertilizer sold commercially," says Eskicioglu, an environmental engineer.

Under the new proposed reuse scenario, biosolids would be trucked from the treatment facility to the landfill.

It would then go through the anaerobic digestion process, with methane recovered from the biosolids fed into the landfill’s existing landfill gas management system for electricity generation.

The remaining solids can still be used as fertilizer, enriched with even more nutrients.

Eskicioglu says the project could lead to a biosolid digestion process that produces rich fertilizer while generating more gas that can be converted to energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The research team will start experimenting in January.

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