New website offers wastewater treatment plant biogas data

By Anna Simet | October 31, 2012

In a bid to provide policymakers, market analysts, project developers and water quality professionals with information regarding biogas production potential, the North East Biosolids and Residuals Association has launched a new website that provides current data on anaerobic digestion and biogas at U.S. wastewater treatment facilities.

The website presents data collected over the past year by a team of biosolids and biogas organizations across the country, including the U.S. EPA data. It indicates that about 1,200 of 3,300 major U.S. wastewater treatment plants produce biogas through anaerobic digestion, but only around 300 of them use it to generate electricity.

A user can run a search for a wastewater treatment plant or browse plants by alphabetical order, and are offered a satellite image of the facility. Information offered about each plant includes location, flow design and average, whether outside waste is fed to the digester, type of digestion used (thermophilic, mesophilic or both), whether the biogas is flared or used for heat or power, as well as the device used to generate electricity and whether or not energy is supplied to the grid.

Seed funding for the data collection was provided by the Water Environment Federation; funding for the initial website development was provided by Cambi, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, and the National Biosolids Partnership, with significant in-kind contributions by project team members, including American Biogas Council, Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association, NEBRA, Black & Veatch, and 350 Technologies.

“The goal was to develop and present a consensus-driven data set—data that everyone in the field could rely on,” said Lori Stone, global practice and technology leader at Black & Veatch, one of the principal investigators on the project. Stone said it took hundreds of phone calls to wastewater treatment facilities to ensure the accuracy of the data.

“This field has needed quality, shared data,” said Ned Beecher, executive director of NEBRA, co-principal investigator. “The data we present today are not perfect, but they are a major step forward.  And, thanks to 350 Technologies, we now have a central web-based platform for biogas and biosolids data that we hope will be expanded and improved over the years, through the same collaboration.”