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Anaerobic Digestion of Restaurant Grease Wastewater to Improve Methane Gas Production and Electrical Power Generation Potential

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The grease wastewater contained in restaurant grease interceptors contain organic material in the form of fats, oils, greases, carbohydrates, sugars and other organic solids that can be used to generate methane gas through anaerobic digestion. The bacteria in the digester that metabolize these organic materials create a waste product of methane gas. This methane gas can then be collected from the digester and compressed to serve as a fuel for fuel cells, internal combustion (IC) engines that operate electrical generators, micro turbines, and gas turbines.

Problems have arisen with the disposal of the grease interceptor wastewater. The cost of disposal continues to rise; the sites for disposal continue to diminish; and illegal disposal of these wastes is increasing and creating public health problems. In response to these problems, the City of Riverside created and successfully implemented an award winning project called "Grease to Gas to Power." This project removes a problematic waste from the environment for power production, provides restaurants with a cost effective means of disposal, creates green credits for power production, is an effective BMP for the control of FOG discharges, and provides an additional revenue base. This paper presents the findings of this project which include: 1) treating over 7.5 million gallons of restaurant grease water in a one year period; 2) methane gas production was increased by over 100%; 3) cost savings from natural gas were substantial; 4) wet tons of biosolids disposed per month was reduced by 1,000 tons per month and dry tons produced per day was reduced by about 25%; 5) renewable electrical energy created is about 1.5 megwatts per day; and 6) sewer blockages due to restaurant grease were significantly reduced.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-10-01

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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