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Biogas Fueled Microturbine Applications at Small Wastewater Treatment Facilities

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Abstract:

A nationwide trend toward sustainable development and a focus on the use of renewable energy resources has created great interest in the use of biomass as a fuel source.

This trend is reflected in the increased applications of biogas-to-energy systems installed in wastewater treatment facilities.

The use of biogas produced by anaerobic digestion processes at municipal wastewater treatment facilities dates back to in 1930's. The practice of operating biogas fueled reciprocating engines to power generators or process equipment wained in the 1950's and 1960's as a result of relatively inexpensive utilities and the high O&M cost of reciprocating engines.

Escalating energy costs, state, and utility incentive programs and advancements in technology through the 1990's have resulted in economics that can favor biogas-to-energy systems applications at mid-size and small wastewater treatment facilities.

As a result of this market trend, small (<250kW) gas turbine driven generator systems (microturbines) with exhaust heat recovery have been brought to the market place over the last several years.

The experience gained at three small municipal wastewater treatment plants (2.75, 3.5 and 6.0 mgd) where biogas-to-energy feasibility studies were conducted (3 sites), designed (2 sites) and installed (1 site) are reviewed:

The major elements of the feasibility studies include:

- current operation of the plant's anaerobic digestion system


- quantification of the quantity and quality of biogas produced


- preliminary sizing and selection of a microturbine system


- estimates of digester heating and building heating needs


- capital, operations and maintenance cost estimates


- economic analyses


- funding and incentives sources


Major design considerations include:

- biogas conditioning (i.e. removal of moisture, hydrogen sulfide and siloxanes)


- selection of the microturbine system and heat recovery system


- integration of the microturbine's electrical and heat recovery and control systems into the plant's systems


Operating results for installed systems include:

- actual power produced and energy cost savings


- actual capital, operation and maintenance costs


This paper summarizes the information obtained from the plants is summarized. These summaries present capital costs, O&M costs, power savings and paybacks that are expected when biogas-to-energy systems are installed in small municipal wastewater treatment facilities.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864705783977718

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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