Reno, Nevada — Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno say that an experiment to transform sewage sludge at a Reno-based treatment facility to electrical power is yielding positive results.
The process involves drying the sludge and gasifying it, thus using the gas for electricity production. The project can process 20 pounds of sludge per hour. The plant’s entire electrical power could potentially be supplied on-site by the process, say researchers working on the project.
The team of researchers custom built the processing machine in a lab at the University and brought it to the plant for testing. It uses a process with relatively low temperatures in a fluidized bed of sand and salts to economically produce the biomass fuel from the gooey sludge.
The solid fuel it produces will be analyzed for its suitability to be used for fuel through gasification, and the refrigerator-size demonstration unit will help researchers determine the optimum conditions for a commercial-sized operation.
Estimates, which will be further refined through the research, show that a full-scale system could potentially generate 25,000 kilowatt-hours per day to help power the local reclamation facility.
The University’s Technology Transfer Office, with assistance from the College of Business, is supporting the project with plans to make the system available to hundreds of communities around the country that operate water-treatment plants.
For example, there are approximately 700,000 metric tons of dried sludge produced annually in California municipalities, which would sustainably generate as much as 10 million kilowatt-hours per day.
Below is a short video report giving an overview of the project in Reno. The project was first announced in March of this year.
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