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Honeywell's New Biogas Project is Innovative

By Anna Simet | September 20, 2012

This week, Honeywell unveiled a $35 million renewable energy project in Wilmington, Del. I haven't come across anything exactly like it.

For those of you who aren’t yet aware of it, the facility will convert two different sources of biogas into heat and electricity to power the city’s wastewater treatment plant. What will be named the Renewable Energy Biosolids Facility will serve as the project centerpiece, a facility that will capture methane generated at the Hay Road Wastewater Treatment Plant. Right now the methane is flared off and wasted, but at the new facility it will be mixed with an additional methane stream drawn from the nearby Cherry Island Landfill. The blend of the two biogas streams will be purified and sent through reciprocating engines to generate up to 4 MW, or roughly 90 percent of the wastewater treatment plant’s power.

Then, making use of what’s often wasted, the biosolids that come out of the digesters will be dehydrated by heat recovered from those reciprocating engines. Honeywell says this thermal drying process should reduce the amount of sludge the city needs to truck away by approximately 75 percent — from 140 to 35 tons per day. One doesn’t have to do the math to know that’s going to be a significant savings on disposal costs.

And perhaps most importantly, the city of Wilmington—which is the largest in the state at just under 71,000 residents—won’t have to increase budgets or taxes, as the reduction in utility and operating costs have been guaranteed through performance contracts with Honeywell.

Construction of the Renewable Energy Biosolids Facility is expected to begin this spring, completed during the summer of 2014. I should mention that Honeywell is collaborating with engineering firm CH2M HILL to design the project, and the company will also provide operations and maintenance support for the facility through an annual service agreement.

I am really looking forward to seeing this project come to fruition—I have no doubt we will be checking in with Honeywell for project updates in the future. And I have to add, even though I read and write about new projects every day, I am continually amazed by what we can do with our waste.