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Can an Alternative Energy Business be Built on a Nasty Waste Stream?

Case Study Project Description

A large private utility wanted to expand into the wastewater business and was looking for opportunities at every point in the waste stream.

Project Problem

Biosolids, or the sludge that is left after wastewater treatment processing is currently be land applied in many urban and rural areas. However there is more supply than demand despite the incredible growing properties of Biosolids. Dogged by rumors of contaminated land, environmental liability lawsuits in property transfers and feuding neighbors, this utility wanted to explore the potential of creating a business that could transform biosolids from a costly waste stream that has to be trucked many miles (creating greenhouse gases) in order to be carefully ‘disposed’ of. Was Biosolids a raw material available for free that could be harnessed for more profitable and safe uses?

Solution

We have done several biosolids as business solutions for a public and private enterprise. Our position is that sourcing and controlling a large volume of supply is an essential element to making the waste to energy solution profitable. Waste to Energy is the best solution for large volumes. Otherwise it is a commodity business at the mercy of the horticultural, golf course and agricultural markets where it is only marginally accepted after 15 years and more of evidence supporting the high crop yields Biosolids enables.

There are a few technologies available today that can convert Biosolids to energy. Our work has been to identify those technologies and develop a broad based strategy to transform this into a business solution.

Result

This project to transform Biosolids into a waste to energy solution is on going. The technology is not quite advanced enough at this time. However the opportunity is viable with the right volume of materials and the right capital structure.