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One man's waste is another man's treasure. 4

Since November, Dalton Utilities has been running a pilot project at its land application system (LAS) along the Conasauga River that could improve wastewater treatment and extend the life of the LAS, while creating biodiesel and possibly methane gas as well.

?The primary focus is extending the life of the land application system,? said Mike Jolley, Dalton Utilities? senior vice president for new business development and special projects. ?But it?s really a win-win situation. We extend the life of our land application system, but we also get biodiesel which can reduce our fuel costs.?

At the LAS, Dalton Utilities sprays treated wastewater on the land, which acts as a secondary filter by removing additional chemicals before it drains into the Conasauga.

One of the chemicals the land removes is phosphorous, and eventually the land will become saturated with phosphorous. At that point, it would simply drain into the river.

So about two and a half years ago, the utility started working with the University of Georgia to find ways to grow algae in the wastewater to remove the phosphorus.

?We are harvesting algae once a week and getting about 1,000 pounds (each time). We are working with the University of Georgia to optimize the process,? Jolley said. ?We want to optimize the amount of phosphorus we remove as well as produce the most biomass we can. We are making progress, but we aren?t there yet.?

A study conducted 10 years ago indicated the LAS had about a 20-year life span when it comes to phosphorus, but officials say the local floorcovering industry has taken steps that greatly reduce the amount of the chemical it sends downstream to Dalton Utilities. In addition, the current recession has cut industry?s water and wastewater use.

Extending the life of the LAS is the top goal, but Dalton Utilities officials say that a big side benefit is that algae can be used to make biodiesel. Jolley says an acre of algae can produce about 2,000 gallons of biodiesel, while an acre of soybeans can produce only about 75 gallons of biodiesel

?We are not actively producing biodiesel because we are not at the point where we want to actively focus on that,? said Mark Marlowe, Dalton Utilities? vice president of water and wastewater engineering. ?We know we can make biodiesel from the algae already, so there?s no reason to make it until we are ready.?

Officials say the pilot project will continue for another six to 12 months. During that period they are working with the University of Georgia to tweak it to produce the most algae. They are also working with the university to find even more products they can create from the algae.

Marlowe says methane gas is one possibility, as is fertilizer.

?Phosphorous is in limited supply long term, and we use a lot of it every year in agriculture. There is increasing interest across the wastewater industry in recovering phosphorus for fertilizer because it will be a valuable resource in the future,? he said.

Marlowe says the pilot project has cost between $150,000 to $250,000, and the utility has applied for a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to fund more testing. Marlowe said that, to his knowledge, Dalton Utilities is the only utility in the nation with a pilot project like this.

After the pilot project is over, officials plan to build a full-scale facility. Marlowe says he isn?t sure yet how much that will cost. But officials say they hope to produce about 250,000 gallons of biodiesel annually, enough to fuel the company?s fleet.
Mon August 09 2010 09:22:26 AM by Abomohra 1905 views

Comments - 4

  • Aathmika wrote:
    Tue August 10 2010 04:59:58 AM

    Dalton Utilities treated wastewater is distributed through a land application piping (LAS) network. For years, the original aluminum piping system had been a source of repeated maintenance headaches.Remedial action was taken
    Sixty-five miles of 4" and 6"High-Density Polyethylene pipe form the primary arteries of the system.

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  • Larsyn wrote:
    Wed August 11 2010 05:01:04 PM

    Another instants of Algae being used to a different end. Thus the algae becomes a free byproduct.

    Vote Up! 1 Vote Down! 0

  • Shankar wrote:
    Wed August 11 2010 10:43:31 PM

    Phosporous recovery from wastewater is a good idea, however small the quantity is.

    Vote Up! 0 Vote Down! 0

  • Mahesh wrote:
    Thu August 12 2010 08:03:41 AM

    A nice thought... Hope it overcomes all usual hurdles..

    Vote Up! 0 Vote Down! 0

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