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Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Turning Waste into an Energy Generator
In today’s society, recycling has become a priority as we work to protect our natural resources and the environment for future generations.  Nearly everything that we consume has a waste product – packaging materials; food scraps; cooking fats, oils and grease; broken or worn out household items and electronics; human and animal waste, etc…  Although many of these items are naturally occurring themselves, it can create health risks if not dealt with properly.  Society has created ways to safely manage the disposal of these items, which protects public health.  Many of these necessary measures are costly because of the high levels of energy needed.

Columbus Water Works (CWW) has been working with industry leaders over the past 20 years to find a way to turn our wastewater into energy, ultimately supplementing the energy used and creating a renewable energy source.  Over years of study and evaluation, the Biosolids Flow-Through Thermophilic Treatment (BFT3) process was born. (CWW refers to this as the
Columbus BFT3 or CBFT3.)  The CBFT3 design was patented in 2005.  CWW donated this patent to the Water Environmental Research Foundation (WERF), which would allow other utilities to benefit from this technology.  CWW is recognized internationally and nationally as a model for developing this process as well as successfully implementing it.

This process takes advantage of the natural energy created when Micro-organisms (bugs) breakdown wastewater resulting in approximately 400,000 cubic feet a day of Methane gas.  CWW has two generators that run on Methane gas to convert this energy into a clean power source that actually powers other aspects of the plant, ultimately
saving an between $300,000 and $500,000 each year depending on electric power pricing

For more details on the technology used and the studies that led to this innovative process, please refer to the following links:
Awards that CWW has won due to this project:
  • International Water Association Global Project Innovation: Applied Research  Award (CBFT3) (2008)
  • American Academy of Environmental Engineers Excellence in Engineering: Superior Achievement (2008)
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia and The Georgia Engineering Alliance: Grand Award for CBFT3 (2005)
  • American Academy of Environmental Engineers Grand Prize in Research Award for CBFT3 (2005)

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