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Putting Digester Gas to Work

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Putting Digester Gas To Work: Economic and Environmental
Sustainability via On-Site Energy Production

C. Michael Bullard, PE
*,
Joseph W. Rohrbacher, PE, and Scott A. Hardy, PE

*
Hazen and Sawyer, PC
4011 Westchase Blvd., Suite 500
Raleigh, NC 27607
mbullard@hazenandsawyer.com

ABSTRACT

Anaerobic digestion is commonly utilized for wastewater residuals stabilization and the resultant methane
rich digester gas stream is commonly utilized for digestion process heating. It is estimated that of the
16,000 centralized wastewater treatment facilities in the United States approximately 3,500 utilize
anaerobic digestion for residuals stabilization and only about two percent (~70) of those facilities are
currently utilizing digester gas to produce electricity (WE&T, J anuary 2008, pg. 34). Increasingly,
wastewater treatment facilities are examining digester gas beneficial use projects for energy recovery that
transcend the current, and most common, practice of capturing heat energy for process heating and
flaring surplus digester gas.

Methodologies utilized for evaluating digester gas beneficial utilization projects must account for a wide
range of site specific operational criteria in determining the quantity of usable energy that can be
extracted from the digester gas while simultaneously balancing the process heating demands which are
essential to anaerobic digestion process stability and the production of the digester gas energy resource.
These on-site criteria include primary and secondary sludge mass fractions, digester residence time,
seasonal heating demands, and local electrical energy costs. Additionally, utilities are faced with choices
for digester gas pretreatment, and utilization equipment which must consider site-specific digester gas
availability and quality in light of overall project economic factors.

Specifically, this paper considers the following issues:

Digester Gas Production Estimation Digester gas production and digester gas availability
influences the maximum potential energy recovery capacity available from the system.

Energy Recovery Equipment Choices Typical energy recovery equipment options will be further
described in this section of the paper.

Digester Gas Quality and Treatment Alternatives Influences of gas quality on energy recovery
equipment and options for digester gas treatment upstream of energy recovery are presented in this
section of the paper.

Environmental and Climate Change Benefits Significant environmental benefits can be achieved
when using digester gas, a renewable energy resource, for electrical power production in a CHP
system. This section will discuss impact of digester gas utilization on electrical power generation
potential and greenhouse gas emissions reductions for several gas study facilities as case studies.

KEYWORDS

Sustainability, anaerobic digestion, combined heat and power,

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DIGESTER GAS PRODUCTION ESTIMATION

Properly estimating digester gas production and the resultant digester gas energy availability will have the
most significant impact on the sizing of the energy recovery system, related system components, and
understanding the lifecycle benefits that can accrue from on-site energy production. Estimating digester
gas production can be based on:

Historical Records - Historical records of raw residuals production rates, digester performance,
and metered digester gas flow rates. These records can form a basis for estimating future
production and/or calibrating a model of current conditions which can then be utilized to estimate
future residuals production rates.

Process Modeling Process modeling tools ranging in complexity from a simple spreadsheet tool
to complex kinetic models (e.g., BIOWIN, etc.) can be utilized to estimate the impact of influent
wastewater characteristics on raw residuals production rates and subsequent processing of these
materials through anaerobic digestion.

Regardless of the mechanism utilized to estimate digester gas production consideration should be given
to the estimated changes in loading over time to the stabilization process and the resultant impact on
digester gas production when anaerobic digestion residence time decreases with increasing plant influent
loadings. However, typically even as digester unit production rates decrease there is an typically an
overall increase in energy available from digester gas driven primarily by the overall increase in organic
loading rate to the anaerobic digester facility. Digester gas production rates and resultant energy
production may also be influenced by the addition of fats, oils and grease or co-digestion of other wastes
to take advantage of anaerobic digester capacity.

ENERGY RECOVERY EQUIPMENT CHOICES

Energy contained in digester gas may be beneficially utilized in several different unit processes, including,
hot water and steam boilers, internal combustion engines and microturbines. Each of these processes
have different thermal and mechanical efficiencies and require different levels of biogas pre-treatment as
discussed in the following sections.

Hot Water and Steam Boilers

Gas fired boilers have a long history for digester gas energy recovery to create hot water or steam. This
thermal energy can be utilized to meet process and building heating demands. Thermal conversion
efficiency for boiler systems typically range from 75% to 85% based on input heat content and output heat
content, averaging about 80% for most systems. Additionally, boiler related systems typically require little
gas pre-treatment to minimize operational and maintenance expenses. Many utilities currently utilize
combination boiler / heat exchanger units and hot water boilers for digester heating. The heating
equipment is dual-fuel (DG and NG) capable and is utilized to generate hot water for digester process
heating demands.

Internal Combustion Gas Engines

Reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE) have been utilized for many years to convert digester
gas thermal energy to mechanical energy which can be utilized to drive electrical generators or other
prime mover (e.g., pumps, blowers, etc.) equipment. Several companies (e.g., Waukesha, Caterpillar,
GE/J enbacher, Cummins, MWM, etc.) have manufactured and supplied this equipment into the North
American marketplace.

Internal combustion gas engines convert input thermal energy into three major output components; (1)
mechanical energy; (2) captured thermal energy; and (3) exhaust waste energy. Mechanical energy is
the primary engine output transferred to the downstream electrical generator or prime mover equipment.
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Mechanical energy output from internal combustion engines typically ranges from 25% to 35% (estimated
average =30%). Captured thermal energy is primarily composed of hot water derived from engine jacket
cooling and the exhaust gas boiler equipment and can range from 40% to 50% (estimated average =
45%) of the input thermal energy. Therefore, with full heat recovery (jacket +exhaust gas) the overall
energy efficiency for internal combustion equipment is approximately 75% of the input energy.
Uncaptured waste energy from the internal combustion gas engine is approximately 25% of the input
energy and is primarily in the engine exhaust gas.

It should be noted that in the absence of a beneficial use for the usable thermal energy component (hot
water from engine jacket and/or exhaust gas heat capture) the overall efficiency of the internal
combustion gas engine is approximately 30% of the input energy being converted to a usable energy
product (electrical or direct drive power).

Microturbine Electrical Generation

Microturbines are a relatively new digester gas energy recovery technology when compared to boilers
and internal combustion gas engines. In a microturbine the gas is direct combusted and the expanded
gas stream is routed through a shaft mounted turbine attached to a generator component for the
production of electrical power. The energy conversion efficiency (input gas power to output electrical
power) efficiency of the combined turbine generator units is reported (Capstone) at approximately 27% at
the 30 kW size and 32% at the 200 kW size with decreases in efficiency above 18C (65F) ambient air
temperatures. Similar operating efficiencies (2%) are reported by others (Ingersoll-Rand) for their 70 kW
and 250 kW microturbine units.

Other Digester Gas Utilization Technologies

In addition to boilers, internal combustion gas engines and microturbines other potential biogas utilization
technologies include fuel cells and Stirling engines. Fuel cells operate by converting the methane in the
presence of an oxidant to electricity and heat in a electrolytic solution. For applications with biogas the
low temperature phosphoric acid type fuel cells appear to represent the most desirable operating
technology. Potential contamination by hydrogen sulfide, water, ammonia, oxygen and particulate
materials; high capital and operating costs, along with early phase technology development issues place
fuel cell technology in a still emerging category and probably not practical for most installations. Stirling
engines are closed-cycle, regenerative heat engines which utilize an external combustion process, heat
exchangers, pistons, and a gas working fluid contained in a single engine to convert heat energy to
mechanical work. While Stirling engines offer some mechanical advantages (e.g., ability to operate with
minimum gas pre-treatment) they generally require a long start-up sequence, have limited capability to
modulate power output, have high capital costs, and are substantially larger than internal combustion
engines of similar power output capability. These emerging technologies should be monitored as they
advance from the emerging category and more proven installations come on-line and long term O&M
costs and other considerations become better defined.

DIGESTER GAS QUALITY CONSIDERATIONS

Digester gas feedstock quality should be carefully considered for energy recovery systems, particularly for
both ICGE and microturbine applications as regards moisture, sulfides and siloxanes. Typical digester
gas quality requirements for hot water boilers, ICGE and microturbine equipment are shown in Table 1.

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Table 1 Digester Gas Quality Requirements
Constituent Boilers
Internal
Combustion
Engine
Microturbine
Moisture Removal Preferred YES YES
Pressure, psig >1.0 >1.0 >100.0
Hydrogen Sulfide, ppmV N/A <1,000 <25
Total Siloxanes, ug /L (as Si) N/A <10 N/A
Total Siloxanes, ug/L (as siloxane) N/A <25 N/A
Total Siloxanes, ppbV N/A - <60

DIGESTER GAS TREATMENT ALTERNATIVES

Digester gas pre-treatment for moisture, hydrogen sulfide and siloxanes may be required prior to
utilization in energy recovery equipment to prevent damage to the equipment, extend equipment useful
operating life, and/or reduce operating and maintenance costs in the energy recovery system equipment.

Moisture Removal and Conditioning

Digester gas is typically saturated with water when it exits from the digester. Therefore, changes in gas
temperature and/or pressure can combine to create conditions whereby water vapor is condensed in the
gas stream. Condensed water vapor, in the presence of reduced sulfur compounds, can result in a
corrosive condition in gas piping and energy recovery systems. Furthermore, water vapor can have
deleterious effects on the operability and maintainability of high speed mechanical equipment such as
microturbines. Therefore, moisture removal from the digester gas stream is generally required for
effective gas utilization in internal combustion gas engine or microturbine equipment.

Hydrogen Sulfide Removal and Conditioning

Hydrogen sulfide, and other reduced sulfur compounds, are typically found in digester gas and arise from
the anaerobic decomposition of sulfate compounds in wastewater and wastewater treatment residuals.
Hydrogen sulfide has been reported to contribute to corrosion and pitting of metals and a contributing
factor in sulfide induced stress cracking particularly in some ferrous materials. The formation of sulfuric
acid, generated when water vapor and hydrogen sulfide combine, can also contribute to corrosion in
downstream energy recovery equipment. Furthermore, the presence of hydrogen sulfide can inhibit
removal of halogenated volatile organic and siloxane compounds which can also adversely impact
operation and maintenance of energy recovery equipment. Lastly, hydrogen sulfide content in the biogas
will convert to sulfur dioxide, an EPA criteria air pollutant, as a combustion byproduct following a boiler,
internal combustion engine, or microturbine.

Siloxane Removal and Conditioning

Siloxanes are organic silicon polymers which are added to a variety of consumer products (e.g.,
cosmetics, deodorants, and hair care solutions) to improve product stability and application properties.
These materials enter the wastewater treatment and landfill streams, respectively, during bathing or as
solid waste materials and enter the gas streams as volatilized materials in the digester and landfill
bioreactors. When these volatile siloxanes are combusted in energy recovery systems silicates and
micro-crystalline quartz particulates are left behind as a byproduct.

The silicates and quartz particulates are capable of bonding to heated surfaces and adversely impact
operation and maintenance of boilers, internal combustion engines and microturbine energy recovery
systems. In boiler systems the deposits frequently form on boiler tubes and result in reduced heat
transfer capacity in the boiler system. In an internal combustion engine deposits can produce fouling in
the main combustion chamber on the valves, valve stems, valve seats, piston heads and chamber walls
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reducing engine efficiency and affecting engine compression rates. Secondarily, the micro-crystalline
quartz may cause long-term damage to due erosion even in the absence of deposition. In microturbines
deposition and erosion both contribute to lost process efficiency and long-term operating and
maintenance problems.

Three primary methods have been identified to reduce siloxanes in full-scale biogas streams, as follows:

Refrigeration and condensation;
Liquid absorption; and
Activated carbon adsorption and filtration.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE CHANGE BENEFITS

Production of electrical power from digester gas, a biogenic carbon source, results in reduced
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by off-setting emissions associated with the combustion of fossil fuels,
anthropogenic carbon sources. GHG emission factors are available for each state based on the electrical
power production blend in the service area.

These state level GHG emission factors (e-Grid, 2007) can utilized to estimate GHG off-sets from the
production of power in digester gas energy recovery equipment. Emissions from natural gas combustion
associated with supplemental heating, were required to meet seasonal heating demands which can not
be meet with CHP heat, must also considered.

DIGESTER GAS UTILIZATION CASE STUDIES

Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (NC) Northside WWTP

The CFPUA J ames A. Loughlin, J r. Wastewater Treatment Plant (aka, Northside WWTP) is permitted for
a discharge flow of up to 16-mgd. The liquid treatment train includes preliminary treatment, primary
treatment, single-stage nitrification activated sludge treatment, secondary clarification, effluent filtration
and UV disinfection. The solids treatment train includes waste activated sludge thickening, primary and
secondary residuals stabilization via anaerobic digestion, and digested residuals dewatering. The
anaerobic digestion facilities include two anaerobic digestion tanks with a volume of 695,000 gallons each
and three anaerobic digestion tanks with a volume 380,000 gallons each. Total anaerobic digestion
volume is 2.53 million gallons. Digester gas storage is provided via gas holder style floating covers and
ground level DYSTOR membrane gas storage.

Digester gas is currently utilized for digester mixing in each of the five anaerobic digestion tanks.
Digester gas utilization for mixing is a non-consumptive demand and does not result in a loss of digester
gas. Digester gas handling and utilization equipment, in addition to mixing and gas storage, which exerts
a consumptive demand on the system, includes the following:

Combination Boiler / Heat Exchanger 1.000 MMBTUH Output Heat Rate
Combination Boiler / Heat Exchanger 0.375 MMBTUH Output Heat Rate (Two Units)
Hot Water Boilers 2.000 MMBTUH Output Heat Rate (Two Units)
Tube-In-Tube Heat Exchangers 2.000 MMBTUH Capacity (Two Units)
Gas Compressor and Drying System 125 SCFM Capacity (Two Units)
Waste Gas Flares 50,000 SCFH Capacity (Two Units)

Two potential energy recovery system configurations were evaluated for digester gas utilization beyond
the conventional heating system provided in the hot water boilers and combination boiler/heat exchanger
units that exist at the CFPUA Northside WWTP site. These two energy recovery system configurations
are described as follows:

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Non-Combined Heat and Power System (n-CHP) This system is configured with an internal
combustion gas engine driven generator. Engine jacket heat and exhaust gas heat recovery
equipment is not provided in this system. Excess digester gas energy not utilized for process
heating demands would be made available for electrical energy production.

Combined Heat and Power System (CHP) This system is configured with an internal
combustion gas engine driven generator. Engine jacket and exhaust gas heat recovery
equipment is provided in this system. Heat is recovered into a cooling water loop producing hot
water that can be utilized for digester heating service. In this process configuration, since heat is
recovered, first priority for digester gas utilization would be for generation of electrical power
when the surplus heat from the CHP process is sufficient to meet the digester heating demands.
If surplus heat from the CHP process is not sufficient; then, digester gas can be routed to the
boiler to make up the heat deficit or natural gas can be purchased for the boiler to make-up the
heat deficit and maximize electrical power production.

Overall energy recovery for each of these process configurations, in addition to the existing hot water
boiler configuration, was estimated for both the current (10-mgd) and future (16-mgd) operating
conditions. Energy recovery is expressed as the fraction of digester gas energy which is utilized
beneficially for process heating and/or electrical power production through the CHP equipment.
Estimated energy recovery effectiveness is summarized in Table 2. The current configuration of using
digester gas for process heating results in energy losses of 62% to 67% through the waste gas flare and
the boiler exhaust gases. Energy effectiveness can be almost flipped with the systems utilizing a full
CHP process configuration where only 33% to 37% of the energy is lost through boiler and engine
exhausts gases and utilization of the waste gas flare is reduced to accommodating ICGE and boiler
outages.

Table 2 Digester Gas Energy Utilization Effectiveness
Operating Flow(mgd)
Hot Water
Boiler Only
Hot Water Boiler +
ICGE Generator
without CHP
Hot Water Boiler+
ICGE Generator
with CHP
10-mgd (Current) 38% 54% 66%
16-mgd (Future) 33% 50% 63%

Actual energy production capability was estimated for both energy recovery system (ERS) configurations
and unit energy production rates were calculated. Energy production capability for the non-CHP process
configuration is summarized in Table 3. Energy production capability for the CHP process is summarized
in Table 4. Table 4 includes requirements for purchased heat to account for seasonal (December through
February) periods when surplus thermal energy would be required in the hot water boiler to supplement
thermal energy from the heat recovery system. These requirements for supplemental energy purchases
are factored into the overall economic analysis.

Table 3 Energy Production (without Combined Heat and Power)
Description 10-mgd 16-mgd
Estimated Annual Power Production, MWH/yr 1,013 1,729
Unit Power Production, MHW/YR per MGD Treated 101.3 108.1

Table 4 Energy Production (with Combined Heat and Power)
Description 10-mgd 16-mgd
Estimated Annual Power Production, MWH/yr 1,944 2,921
Unit Power Production, MHW/YR per MGD Treated 194.4 182.6
Purchased Heat, MMBTU/YR 148 83
Unit Purchased Heat Rate, MMBTU/YR per MGD 14.8 5.2

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As shown in these tables, total energy production capacity is greater for the full CHP system than for the
non-CHP system. Therefore, the potential economic benefits to be derived from a CHP system could be
greater than for a non-CHP system. However, capital costs for the CHP system would be greater than
those for the non-CHP system due to the increased costs associated with the heat recovery equipment.
To properly assess the marginal benefits between the systems a lifecycle cost analysis was conducted.

Facility capital costs and operating costs were estimated for both alternatives based on a 20-year net
present worth basis. The potential benefits were compared to the estimated capital costs in order to
determine economic viability of each energy recovery system alternative by its benefit-to-cost ratio (B/C
ratio) as shown in Table 5

Table 5 Benefit-to-Cost Ratio Summary
Description Non-CHP CHP
Net Present Operating Benefit +$1.923 +$3.402
Estimated Capital Cost -$1.246 -$1.405
Total Net Present Benefit +$0.677 +$1.997

Benefit/Cost Ratio (B/C Ratio >1.0 =GOOD) 1.543 2.421

As shown in Table 5, both systems were shown to have the potential to create positive economic value
for CFPUA with total net present benefits ranging from approximately $700,000 to $2,000,000 dollars.
The greater B/C ratio for the CHP alternative, when compared to the non-CHP alternative, is indicative
that the additional marginal capital cost (approximately $140,000) generates a higher marginal internal
rate of return ($1.32 million dollars) than the initial investment cost. Clearly, the incremental investment in
the development of a full CHP capable system is in the best economic interest of the facility Owner.

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (VA) Moores Creek WWTP

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) operations the Moores Creek WWTP to provide
wastewater treatment services to the Charlottesville (VA) and surrounding areas. The treatment facility is
currently being upgraded to meet enhanced nutrient removal requirements associated with the
Chesapeake Bay Improvements program. The plant has a permitted discharge capacity of 15 million
gallons per day and will utilize a multi-stage BNR process, combined with chemical phosphorus removal,
to meet effluent treatment requirements. The overall treatment process includes influent pumping,
preliminary treatment for screening and grit removal, primary clarification, and activated sludge secondary
treatment followed by effluent filtration and UV disinfection. Residuals from the treatment plant are
thickened and stabilized via anaerobic digestion prior to dewatering and off-site composting.

The existing plant, prior to the upgrade, included two dual-fuel (digester gas and natural gas) engine
driven blowers configured as a combined heat and power (CHP) system. Recovered heat from these
engines was being utilized for digester and building heating service. The existing facility did not have
supplemental heating capacity with a hot water boiler to allow decoupled operation of the CHP system for
process and building heating from process air requirements. Therefore, both digester gas and natural
gas were routinely used in the engine driven equipment to produce sufficient hot water for digester
heating even when process air demands did not warrant air production. As a result, the excess air was
wasted and the system operated at a much lower than desired overall energy efficiency.

During the upgrade project four alternatives for enhanced beneficial utilization of digester gas were
evaluated with a focus on the following objectives:

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Decoupling process air production from digester heating to allow each system to be optimized
independent of the other for increased overall energy efficiency;
Beneficial utilization of digester gas across seasonal heating demand cycles;
Increased overall reliability in digester heating capacity;
Overall reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and
Optimal allocation of capital for reduced initial and lifecycle operating costs.

Based on the alternatives evaluated the recommended facilities which are currently under construction
include the following:

Replacement of the dual-fuel engine driven blowers with high efficiency, high-speed turbo
aeration blowers which result in reduced energy consumption per unit air volume generated.
These blowers are also sized to better match process air demands with the upgraded ENR
system across the expected range of operations. These blowers also provide the ability to
decouple the process air production and digester heating system.

Installation of a hot water boiler system to increase digester system heating reliability and provide
heat generation capacity to meet peak seasonal heating demands.; and

Installation of a 350kW combined heat and power (CHP) system for the on-site production of
electrical power from the digester gas fuel source. This system will be utilized to beneficially
utilize the anaerobic digester gas that is available and will reduce the need for the utility to
purchase natural gas to meet process and building heating demands. Electrical energy
generated from the system will be utilized within the plant to meet process electrical demands.

The resultant improvements will reduce facility GHG emissions associated with process air production
and digester heating from approximately 765 tons CO2e per year to 175 tons CO2e per year when
accounting for both direct and indirect (reduced off-site electrical power production) emissions. Design of
the recommended improvements has been completed and the project is currently nearing completion of
construction.

Western Virginia Water Authority (VA) Roanoke Regional WWTP

The Western Virginia Water Authority (WVWA) operates the Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control
Plant (RRWPCP) to provide wastewater treatment service to the City of Roanoke (VA) and several
surrounding municipalities and nearby unincorporated areas. The treatment plant was recently upgraded
from a two-stage to a single-stage nitrification activated sludge wastewater treatment plant with a
permitted operating capacity of 55.0-mgd. The upgraded plant operates the following major unit
treatment processes:

Preliminary Treatment (Screening and Grit Removal)
Primary Treatment (Primary Clarification)
BAF (Biological Aerated Filters)/EQ Basins
Secondary Treatment (Single-Stage Nitrification Activated Sludge)
Secondary Clarification
Tertiary Treatment (Coagulation Settling)
Tertiary Filtration (Dual Cell Gravity Filters)
Disinfection (Chlorination/Dechlorination)
Secondary Sludge Thickening (Dissolved Air Floatation Thickeners or Gravity Thickeners)
Anaerobic Digestion (Conventional Mesophilic)
Anaerobically Digested Sludge Lagoons


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These recent upgrades and expansions to the treatment facility to improve liquid treatment and wet
weather flow treatment capacity had resulted in the abandonment of existing gas engine driven influent
centrifugal pumps for new electric motor driven screw pumps associated with a new preliminary treatment
facility. The resultant decommissioning of the gas engine driven influent pumps has resulted in surplus
digester gas being flared instead of beneficially utilized in the treatment facility.

WVWA commissioned a study to evaluate on-site energy production from digester gas to replace prior
beneficial utilization equipment and reduce digester gas flaring. The investigation included a detailed
evaluation of digester gas production rates, digester gas quality analysis, and preparation of an economic
analysis for installation of new digester gas utilization equipment in a combined heat and power system
with the goal of increasing plant sustainability and reducing the facility carbon footprint.

Several on-site generation configurations and sizes were assessed based on current and anticipated
future digester gas production rates. Economic analyses were completed to determine the net present
costs and benefits for the system over a 20-year lifecycle period considering seasonal variability in
heating demands and long-term growth in gas production. Recommended energy recovery facilities
included installation of approximately 1,000kW digester gas driven engine generator capacity during the
initial phase based on current gas production. The system would be installed in a CHP configuration with
recovered heat routed to the anaerobic digestion process for heating.

The economic analysis conducted accounted for the value of electrical energy produced, renewable
energy credits generated, estimated O&M costs, and capital investment requirements. Results of the
analysis indicated that the recommended system could generate approximately $3.00 net present value
would be generated for each $1.00 of incremental capital cost invested in the CHP system with an
estimated payback period of 7-8 years.

The facilities to be installed include two (2) engine generator units with an output capacity of
approximately 600 kW each with engine jacket and exhaust gas heat recovery. Recovered hot water will
be utilized for digester heating in a full CHP process configuration. These facilities are currently under
construction anticipated to start in mid-year 2011.

CONCLUSIONS

This paper has provided an overview of items which may impact the choices utilities make when
considering a digester gas energy recovery project, as follows:

Digester Gas Production Estimation
Energy Recovery Equipment Choices
Digester Gas Quality and Treatment Alternatives
Environmental and Climate Change Benefits

For typical municipal wastewater treatment facility with primary and activated sludge treatment, receiving
a conventional medium strength wastewater, digester gas production rates are anticipated to range from
about 9,000 to 11,000 standard cubic feet (SCF) of digester gas generated per million gallons of
wastewater treated on an annual average basis when anaerobic digester residence times range from
about 15-days to 30-days. Based on a typical energy density of 600 BTU per SCF and internal
combustion engine efficiencies the on-site electrical power generation potential will range from about 25
kW to 28 kW per million gallons treated. However, the addition of fats, oils and grease (FOG) or co-
digestion with other high strength organic wastes can increased power production potential significantly.

Energy recovery equipment options were investigated and discussed. For each of the case study
facilities the digester gas quantity and quality pointed toward the internal combustion gas engine as being
the preferred energy recovery system. Lower conversion efficiencies, smaller unit sizes, and increased
inlet gas quality considerations did not favor installation of micro-turbines at any of the case study sites.

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Positive economic and environmental benefits were shown to exist at each of the case study sites as a
result of beneficially utilizing anaerobic digestion gas. Improvements are under construction at one of the
treatment sites and under design at the other two treatment sites. In summary, beneficially utilizing
digester gas for on-site energy production was shown to be a sustainable choice in each of the case
study locations evaluated.

REFERENCES

Bullard, C. M, Vogt, K. L., Lundin, C., Seasonal and Lifecycle Cost Considerations in Evaluating
Beneficial Utilization of Digester Gas, Proceedings 82
nd
Annual Conference of the Water Environment
Federation (WEFTEC 2009), Orlando, FL, October 2009.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions and participation in the development of the case
studies of the following individuals and their organizations:

Kenneth L. Vogt, J r, PE CFPUA
Robert Wichser, PhD, PE - RWSA
S. Scott Shirley, PE - WVWA