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Publication Title | A Wastewater Treatment Plant Turns Onsite Biogas into Clean, Money-Saving Electricity and Heat

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San Elijo Joint Powers Authority Water Reclamation Facility Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA

Wastewater

Treatment Facility

BIOGAS • PEAK SHAVING • CHP

Waste Not, Want Not

A Wastewater Treatment Plant Turns Onsite Biogas into

Clean, Money-Saving Electricity and Heat

Taking “Flex Your Power” to Heart

In December 2000, the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority Water Reclamation Facility saw energy costs triple in a single month. San Elijo Assistant Manager Mike Thornton and his team needed a swift alternative for viable, economical power production. With a goal of following California’s “Flex Your Power” initiative to conserve grid electricity, San Elijo began

investigating onsite power generation options

Enter the Solution:

the Capstone MicroTurbine

Reciprocating engine gensets offered low initial costs but were known to require frequent and expensive maintenance. Their reliability and emissions record also fell short of San Elijo’s project goals. On the other end of the scale, fuel cell technology had overall high

capital cost and a lack of demonstrated commercial performance.

Then Thornton found an answer: the Capstone MicroTurbine. In addition to its low scheduled maintenance and low emission design, the Capstone solution offered the proven ability to run on biogas which the San Elijo plant produces in abundance.

The Capstone MicroTurbine system runs on biogas, created when San Elijo's digester tanks process waste solids.

Integrating with the

Wastewater Treatment Process

At the heart of San Elijo’s treatment process are digesters, heated tanks that use microorganisms to break down waste solids and create biogas. San Elijo had been flaring its biogas; the primary component of biogas, methane, is a potent greenhouse gas more than 20 times as

destructive as carbon dioxide.

Capstone distributor MWH Energy Solutions (www.mwhglobal.com/power.asp) designed San Elijo’s system comprising three Capstone C30s. Thornton’s team managed the installation by Orion Construction. "We gave this engineering team an unrealistic schedule of just three months to complete our conceptual design and subsequent construction,” said Thornton. “MWH Energy

THE ISSUE:

Reduce energy acquisition costs by offsetting a portion of grid demand.

THE SOLUTION:

The Capstone MicroTurbineTM simultaneously generates electric power for peak shaving and heat to sustain production of biogas, a facility by-product that the Capstone system uses as “free fuel.”

San Elijo's three Capstone C30 MicroTurbines with heat exchanger. Homes surround the facility, confirming its responsibility to the community and the environment.

SOLUTION SUCCESSES:

• Reduces grid power consumption 15% by generating onsite electricity, effectively cutting energy purchases

• Utilizes site-produced biogas as a “free fuel”

• Through CHP, simultaneously-generated heat drives digesters, which produce biogas

• Reduces emissions of methane and NOx versus standard practice of flaring

• Provides rapid ROI per cost-benefit analysis

• Earns state grant money by producing clean onsite power that reduces grid power usage at peak periods

300000-008a

Image | A Wastewater Treatment Plant Turns Onsite Biogas into Clean, Money-Saving Electricity and Heat



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