Thought Leaders

Turning Wastewater into Renewable Energy

An interview with Zonetta English, discussing the technologies available for utilizing wastewater as renewable energy, to be explored at Pittcon 2019, conducted by Alina Shrourou, BSc.

What are the challenges we face with the current wastewater treatment process?

The utility costs associated with treating wastewater is our biggest challenge at this point. We want to try and treat wastewater with an effective use of resources, in terms of water, electricity, natural gas, human resources, and using the best technologies, whilst also keeping the costs to a minimum.

Cambi™ Thermal Hydrolysis at Davyhulme.

What is the significance of wastewater as a renewable energy source?

It's critical in terms of us meeting our rate payers. That is the biggest obstacle to overcome with the increasing energy cost. It’s very difficult for us to have enough revenue and resources to meet the needs of processing our waste water. We have flat rates, so we need to be innovative in order to meet our regulatory requirements and also be conscious of our rate payers.

Please give an overview of the technologies you will be highlighting in your talk at Pittcon 2019.

I will be highlighting some of the technologies available for utilizing wastewater as renewable energy source. A lot of my talk will be focussed on an overview of various technologies including hydrothermal processing and thermal hydrolysis.

Thermal hydrolysis involves using high pressure and high temperature to reduce solids. This volatile solid destruction method can be used as a thermal hydrolysis pre-treatment before you perform anaerobic digestion of the wastewater. By using this process, you increase your biogas production, and have a higher opportunity for energy recovery.

Why did you choose thermal hydrolysis as a wastewater pre-treatment technology?

We went through a formal process, making requests for the expression of interest, and asking people across the country about what technologies they were offering.

We also had the opportunity to visit and review the technologies in action in other countries. For example, following the responses to our requests took us to the UK. In the Request for Expression of Interests (RFEI), we asked for full scale projects.

Oxford Sludge Treatment Center (STC) Veolia Biothelys™ Thermal Hydrolysis.

Based on the technologies offered, we were able to visit those facilities. In addition to the RFEIs, we issued Request for Qualifications (RFQs) for teams to submit their specific technologies and we utilized these submittals to narrow down our options which led to choosing thermal hydrolysis as a suitable wastewater pre-treatment technology. The two highest qualifiers both offered thermal hydrolysis technology.

The LIFT SEE IT scholarship allowed us to complete this project.

Please give an introduction to LIFT. How do you hope LIFT will speed up the process of bringing technology to the water sector?

LIFT is an initiative from the Water Research Foundation and the Water Environment Foundation, to help bring new water technologies to the field quickly and effectively. I’m very proud to be able to say that we have been a part of it with several initiatives.

The LIFT SEE IT scholarship has provided us with an opportunity to find more information specifically about our process. We're also involved in research projects for technologies which you would consider embryonic (not at full scale functioning just yet), but we’ve been able to develop these ideas due to the LIFT concept which has been really useful in bringing experts from all parts of the wastewater industry  and providing a central repository of information.

Why is it valuable for you to attend Pittcon 2019?

Pittcon provides a huge opportunity to visit the exhibitors and see the latest technology, as well as attending technical sessions to learn about the latest research being done in your field.

For me, I find the opportunities to engage and collaborate with people who have similar circumstances as you in your field, extremely valuable. Pittcon really covers the whole array of every aspect of our community from the bench chemist to the researcher, to the technology providers and equipment manufacturers. It's a one stop shop.

Where can readers find more information?

About Pittcon

Pittcon® is a registered trademark of The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a Pennsylvania non-profit organization. Co-sponsored by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, Pittcon is the premier annual conference and exposition on laboratory science.

Proceeds from Pittcon fund science education and outreach at all levels, kindergarten through adult. Pittcon donates more than a million dollars a year to provide financial and administrative support for various science outreach activities including science equipment grants, research grants, scholarships and internships for students, awards to teachers and professors, and grants to public science centers, libraries and museums.

What Pittcon Can do for You

What Pittcon Can do for You from AZoNetwork on Vimeo.

About Zonetta English

Zonetta E. English has been in the wastewater industry field for 27 years. Zonetta develops, implements and manages the research program for MSD. Leads research and evaluation of existing technologies along with emerging trends and technologies related to wastewater and stormwater. Determines project or program feasibility and the potential value to Louisville MSD.

Zonetta holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and a Master’s in Business Administration. She was a Laboratory Manager for 15 years. She has also served on several boards including The NELAC Institute Board of Directors, Federal Advisory Board on Detection and Quantitation (FACDQ) and the Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board.  She recently obtained her certification as an Associate Professional™ for the Design Build Institute of America.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.


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