Improving Energy Efficiency and Performance of Wastewater Recycling

This project’s intent is to test and demonstrate, the controlled operation of intensive high-rate algal ponds for year-round wastewater treatment. This includes low-cost harvesting of the algal biomass by a combined algal settling and membrane

MicroBio Engineering, Inc.

Recipient

San Luis Obispo, CA

Recipient Location

17th

Senate District

35th

Assembly District

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$424,862

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

In 2020, MicroBio Engineering further advanced their RNEW(r) technology for recovering nutrients, energy, and water from the wastewater treatment process in three main ways. They completed the setup of the full-scale experiments and the pilot-scale recycled water filtration experiments. These, along with a 10-unit pilot nutrient removal study, are generating weekly water quality data sets to be used to develop operation models and guidelines. The Technical Advisory Committee and Critical Project Review meetings also generated valuable feedback for the project leaders on advancing the RNEW(r) technology.[br /]
During 2021, the recipient continued optimization experiments in all three study areas, with the main objectives of nitrogen recovery/removal and filtered recycled water production.

The Issue

California recognizes that there is a need to maximize synergies in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus. Wastewater treatment facilities have been slow to adopt more efficient technologies due to cost effectiveness and reliability of new systems. Algae-based wastewater treatment has the potential reduce energy consumption and chemical usage while also recycling nutrients and producing fuels from wastewater. However, algae-based wastewater treatment technologies have seasonal limitations that prevent their use in winter months.

Project Innovation

This project will advance the RNEW (Recycle Nutrients Energy and Water) process, which will overcome the seasonal limitation of current wastewater treatment pond processes by the selective use of mechanical aeration to optimize wastewater treatment in winter months and incorporating a two-stage process of biomass settling and filtration for algae - biomass harvesting. The products resulting from this process are unrestricted reuse water, and biomass that can be used to generate biofuels and fertilizers. RNEW is suitable for both small and large communities. The RNEW process can be applied to new, or retrofitted to existing, wastewater treatment plants. The technological and scientific knowledge being advanced by this project are the controlled operation of intensive high-rate algal ponds for year-round wastewater treatment. This includes low-cost harvesting of the algal biomass by a combined algal settling and membrane separation for recovery of energy, fertilizers and reclaimed water.

Project Benefits

This project will advance the science and engineering of algae wastewater treatment systems, to enable current and future California wastewater plants to reduce net electricity consumption while improving plant performance and lower overall costs. The RNEW technology has projected 80% lower electricity consumption and 50% lower annualized capital and operating costs than conventional activated sludge, and meets California's Title 22 recycled water standards, with much lower nutrient effluent concentrations than currently required.

Consumer Appeal

Consumer Appeal

The projects economic goals are to improve the cost effectiveness of the RNEW system, which will increase consumer appeal. Improvements in greenfield purification are projected to reduce cost by $2,600 per 1M Gal. Improvements fo

Lower Costs

Lower Costs

The RNEW technology has projected 80% lower electricity consumption and 50% lower annualized capital and operating costs than conventional activated sludge.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental & Public Health

The estimated annual greenhouse gas emissions reduction for all cities within the San Joaquin Valley (with a population greater than 100,000) is 46,000 to 48,000 mt CO2e/yr (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, per year) by

Key Project Members

Project Member

John Benemann

Contact the Team

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