Energy Vision

Case study - Grand Junction Sets the Pace with Colorado’s First Biogas-to-Vehicle Fuel Project at the Persigo Wastewater Plant


Courtesy of Courtesy of Energy Vision

The first biogas-to-vehicle fuel project in Colorado converts wastewater-derived biogas mto renewable natural gas (RNG) to fuel city and county fleet vehicles


The Per si go wastewater treatment plant in Grand Junction, Colorado, a city of about 60,000, processes upwards of 8.2 million gallons per day of wastewater in two anaerobic digestion tanks (primary and secondary). The facility was built in 1983 with a current rated capacity of 12.5 million gallons per day. Build out of the facility will provide 25 MGD of treatment capacity.   Like many wastewater facilities across the country, prior to this innovative project, biogas was being captured and flared rather than beneficially utilized. But as early as 2005, city officials began contemplating a small-scale biogas project that could be developed and implemented without the use of city tax dollars.

After years of planning, in 2014, the city contracted with BioCNG, LLC to design, build and operate a system to capture, collect and purify biogas to create vehicle-grade natural gas fuel, known as renewable natural gas (RNG) or biomethane. In doing so it is estimated that approximately 460 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) will be produced on-site daily and subsequently piped almost 6 miles to an existing compressed natural gas (CNG) hiding station. This ultra-low-carbon fuel —which achieves greenhouse gas emission reductions of 88% or more as compared to gasoline or diesel — will power 38 municipal natural gas vehicles, including refuse trucks, sheet sweepers, dump trucks and sedans by the end of 2015. Four Grand Valley Transit regional buses (already equipped with natural gas engines) will also be fueled by RNG, with the option to add an additional five.

It is the first biogas-to-vehicle fuel project in Colorado. The primary economic drivers are fuel savings and long-term fixed costs of renewable CNG fuel versus diesel and environmental credits generated under the EPA's Renewable Fuel Standard. The total project cost, including pipeline, is approximately $2.8 million with an anticipated payback time of 9 years. The project will eliminate the equivalent of about 168,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel annually and prevent the release of nearly 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The City of Grand Junction and Mesa Comity, CO jointly own the project. Bailing any setbacks, the project is expected to be fully operational by March 2015.

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