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Cossato Spolina Wastewater Treatment Plant

Until spring 2009, the carbon footprint of a wastewater treatment center outside Cossato, Italy, was measured partly by the are that burned continuously above the plant that was fed by biogas that had been considered a nuisance by-product of the treatment process.

But the ame went out when managers of the Cossato Spolina plant saw an opportunity to harness the energy stored in the waste biogas. They turned to Capstone Turbine for technology solutions to make their vision real.

Today, a single Capstone CR200 turbine provides all the electrical power needed at the treatment plant, along with heat to make the plant’s digesters work at optimum ef ciency. The simple, elegant system likely will serve as a model for similar projects at wastewater treatment plants worldwide.

Numbers tell the story of the Capstone installation’s success:

First, the CR200 will produce 1.7 million kW-hours (kWh) yearly to supply the plant’s electrical power needs by using 2,600-cubic-meters (91,818-cubic-feet) of biogas from the plant as fuel – the same biogas that previously was burned away as waste. Second, an external heat exchanger installed with the microturbine delivers another 2.3 million kWh of thermal energy to warm the digesters. Together, the heat and power produced will cut carbon dioxide emissions at the plant by

1.8 tons per year.

Cossato Spolina’s managers rst tested traditional technology to meet their energy needs. They ordered a piston-driven gas engine that fell short of providing the combined heat and power (CHP) they needed to achieve their ecological and nancial goals. After this pitfall, they had faith that microturbine technology would deliver, and it did.

The plant’s Chief Technology Of cer, civil engineer Fabio Dalla Villa,


At a glance


Cossato, Italy


April 2009


Biogas derived from the treatment of wastewater.


• A Capstone CR200 MicroTurbine® installed with an external heat exchanger. The CHP system can operate ef ciently with methane concentrations that range between 50% and 80%.


• The system’s start-up operation supports projections that it will supply 1.7 million kWh of electrical power and 2.3 million kWh of thermal energy annually.

• Reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions will amount to 1.8 tons of CO2 annually.

• The Cossato Spolina project has attracted attention as a model for wastewater treatment facilities worldwide.

Looking Forward

• The ef ciency of thermal generation to supply hot water to heat the plant’s digesters will result in the production of even more biogas that can be converted to energy generation.

Image | Cossato Spolina Wastewater Treatment Plant

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