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Algae Treatment Process for Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements Project for Biotown™ USA (Town of Reynolds, Indiana)

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In 2009, the Town of Reynolds, Indiana (Population 547) issued an RFP to construct a new wastewater treatment facility to replace their existing 0.08 mgd (303 m3d) controlled discharge waste stabilization lagoon facility. The existing lagoon facility was constructed in the early 1970's with no major improvements or maintenance since it became operational, and, even with expensive upgrades, would not meet future regulatory limits for ammonia removal. Reynolds, also known as Biotown™ USA due to a State designation and goal to make the Town a model green community that is energy self–sufficient, reviewed options for the new facility. Since conventional wastewater treatment plants consume large amounts of electricity and generate significant amounts of greenhouse gases, conventional wastewater treatment processes were not in keeping with Biotown's goals. They wanted a facility that would treat their wastewater in an environmentally sound and energy conscious manner, while at the same time providing usable end products. Therefore, the Town Council of Reynolds decided to construct an algae–based system to address their wastewater treatment needs and fulfill the primary green objectives of Biotown. Algaewheel Technologies, LLC and Thieneman Construction, Inc. were contracted to build an Algaewheel Wastewater facility for the Town. Construction began on June 1, 2009 with facility startup in late January 2010.

This paper will provide the results of the Biotown project to date. Data on operation of the algae treatment system are presented as well as lessons learned in the operation. Operational cost savings will be discussed including energy savings, reduction in sludge generation, and reduction in chemical usage. Additional benefits of using algae to treat wastewater will be discussed including reducing or eliminating several key processes typically found in conventional wastewater treatment plants such as secondary clarifiers, return sludge pumping, sludge digesters, and post aeration. Analyses of the algae biomass generated will also be discussed.
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Keywords: Algae nitrogen removal; algae production; ammonia removal; nitrogen removal; nutrient recovery; nutrient removal

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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