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Biofuels from Wastewater: State of the Industry

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The WEF Bioenergy Subcommittee has appointed a new technology Task Force charged with helping inform the wastewater industry at large and, where beneficial to the industry, promoting the growing trend in recovering resources from wastewater streams in the form of Biofuels. The Task Force defines a “Biofuel” as materials created from wastewater treatment byproducts that can be used as an energy source. These materials generally conform to an existing national quality specification and are viewed as a saleable or fungible commodity by external markets.

The Biofuels Task Force has developed a “State of the Industry Update” to provide an overview of emerging trends and identify benefits, challenges, and future pathways of new energy and resource recovery solutions for wastewater treatment byproducts. This update serves as an introduction to biofuel production from wastewater treatment byproducts. There are a number of different byproducts of the wastewater treatment process that fall under the umbrella of “Biofuels” and can be categorized into one of the following three main categories: Biogas & Biomethane, Dried Wastewater Solids, and Biodiesel.

The purpose of this technical paper and presentation will be to define the current state of our industry's production of biofuels and describe the growth potential of this trend as the “wastewater” industry continues to evolve into a “resource recovery” industry. Each of the above listed biofuels will be explained including descriptions of the technologies driving their growth, case studies of where they are being used successfully, lessons learned from these installations, as well as the challenges and barriers to rapid deployment and production of biofuels across the industry.
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Keywords: Biofuels; FOG; algae; biodiesel; biogas; biomethane; energy; solids

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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