Nexterra completes biosolids fuel testing



Vancouver-based Nexterra has announced the successful completion of testing of biosolids as a potential new fuel source for its proprietary gasification technology. The first phase of testing took place last month at Nexterra’s product development centre in Kamloops B.C., using biosolids from Metro Vancouver.

Nexterra is actively developing a new application of its proprietary gasification technology to convert biosolids into renewable heat for use in sludge dryers at municipal wastewater treatment plants. This new application can displace fossil fuels currently used for drying and will provide a long-term, renewable energy solution for sludge disposal that will lower fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions for municipalities.

Nexterra’s biosolids gasification solution is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 4,000 - 15,000 tonnes annually per facility, the equivalent of taking over 1,000 - 3,700 cars off the road.

'We are excited to be part of this industry-leading initiative, working with Nexterra to convert biosolids into renewable energy,' said Paul Kadota, Program Manager with the Residuals Management Division of Metro Vancouver. 'This puts gasification on the radar of opportunities for the management of biosolids. The potential for savings on fuel costs is evident, but there’s also the option of creating biosolids pellets which in itself is an alternative fuel or fertilizer.'

Results from this energy recovery demonstration have been highly successful. Nexterra’s gasification technology produced significant high quality thermal energy from the Metro Vancouver biosolids without requiring any major equipment modifications. In addition, third-party commissioned field tests confirmed emission results that were well below the guidelines set by British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment.

'The use of biosolids as a fuel for gasification truly falls within the definition of conservation and innovation for the future. The ability to turn a costly management issue into an on-site valuable resource using gasification technology allows us to develop a renewable energy source which can result in energy independence for the wastewater treatment community' said Jeanette Brown, Vice-President of the Water Environment Federation (WEF).

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are more than 16,000 wastewater treatment facilities in the United States, with many of these plants owned and operated by municipalities. Biological sludge is a residual product of the wastewater treatment process. Traditional biosolids management methods include trucking to landfills or using as a fertilizer. Many municipalities would like to discontinue this practice due to rising fuel and management costs, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and diminishing landfill capacity. 

'This represents a major advancement for the wastewater treatment industry and Nexterra,' said Jonathan Rhone, President and CEO of Nexterra. 'And we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Leveraging wastewater residuals as a valuable renewable energy resource with our expertise in gasification technology has the potential to provide municipalities with a compelling economic renewable energy solution for drying, heating and even power generation applications.'

Nexterra plans to commercialize its biosolids gasification solution, with the objective of completing fuel testing and selecting a commercial demonstration site before the end of 2009. Nexterra continues to evaluate and test additional feedstock alternatives for their customers to use to offset fossil fuel consumption.

About Nexterra Systems Corp. - Nexterra is a leading supplier of biomass gasification solutions that generate heat and power for institutional and industrial customers. Nexterra’s gasification technology is fully proven for thermal applications to displace natural gas. Sales to date include projects at the University of South Carolina, Dockside Green, the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab, Kruger Products and Tolko Industries. Nexterra is a private company based in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

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