Processing Magazine

New Jersey wastewater plant uses anaerobic digestion to produce power

November 26, 2013

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The Village of Ridgewood, N.J., has launched a new project at the local wastewater treatment plant that entirely relies on renewable energy.

The system uses a combination of an anaerobic digester and solar installations, which will produce enough energy to provide all the power the facility needs. The project will cut costs for the utility while also dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of the village, local authorities said.

The project has been realized by a public-private partnership, including the Village of Ridgewood, Middlesex Water Company, Natural Systems Utilities and American Refining and Biochemical. Dennis Doll, president and CEO of Middlesex Water Company, explained that anaerobic digestion is only just entering the United States and has never before been used on such a scale in the country.

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During the process, methane from wastewater solids is captured by the anaerobic digester and is then converted into electricity which powers both the treatment plant and the anaerobic digester. This process has a series of benefits over alternative methods, the companies involved in the project explained. One of them is the fact that the digester makes use of waste that would normally be disposed of, contributing to more methane gas being released into the atmosphere.

Energy produced in this manner is the perfect example of the relationship between water, wastewater and renewable energy and highlights the fact that integrating them can result in environmental and economic benefits for everyone involved, Doll concluded.