New technology that converts wastewater biosolids into hydrogen gas, which can in turn be used for the production of electricity, is going to be demonstrated in a $1.75 million project developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Miami-based biotechnological company Chemergy Inc.

The demonstration project will be located in California, at the Delta Diablo Sanitation District (DDSD) facility in Antioch. The California Energy Commission and the Bay Area Biosolids to Energy (BAB2E) Coalition are also funding the development of the technology that could significantly reduce waste and enhance the production of renewable energy from biosolids.

The demonstration will be open in October and according to Bob Glass, who leads the project for LLNL, in about a year, the wastewater treatment facility will be able to process about one ton of wet biosolids every day and will be producing as many as 30 kilowatts of electricity, which will be used to power different functions at the Antioch plant.

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The patent-pending technology from Chemergy successfully integrates two separately implemented chemical processes. First, thermochemistry is used to produce heat, carbon dioxide and a hydrogen compound from wet biosolids. Then, the latter is further decomposed to produce renewable hydrogen gas.

Caroline Quinn, spokesperson for the coalition, explained that the Chemergy technology provided an innovative method that worked at moderate temperatures and at a smaller scale than conventional conversion methods.