Today sustainable technology is constantly being developed that use less energy while still allowing us to maintain our current practices and habits. Pasteurization Technology Group has developed a system that creates sustainable electricity, and in the process purifies water on a large scale. The system uses water pasteurization techniques which essentially heats the water to the point of purification for non potable water standards. The system could potentially make water treatment plants self sufficient in terms of electricity, and also treat water in a non-toxic, low energy manner.
Most Americans are privileged to be able to flush the toilet or take a shower, and not think about where that dirty water is going. The water is treated at a wastewater treatment plant and after is released into a body of water. This process requires copious amounts of energy; the water sector in California uses around 29% of total electricity consumed in the state (Scheer
&Moss) Water treatment also can be quite dangerous given the chemicals that are often added to clean the water. Often the water that is released back into large bodies of water is treated with chlorine that can be hazardous to the environment and contains harmful chlorinated byproducts.
Other industries such as craft breweries, beverage operations, and food processing/manufacturing plants all produce large amounts of wastewater that must be treated. Some breweries have an onsite, pre waste water treatment system that cleans some of the water before it is then transferred to a wastewater treatment plant. Others have onsite treatment where they can then directly release the water into a waterway (Geoffrey Simate) These operations often have high energy demands, waste quite a large amount of water and are financially costly- the wastewater treatment system at Russian River Brewery Co. costing around 100,000 dollars (Gribbins). The owner of this brewery mentions, “If your wastewater is not operable, your brewery is not operable” (Gribbins). Similar waste water treatment conditions apply in other beverage, agricultural and food processing industries as well. Picture Above shows Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewery testing his onsite wastewater treatment plant.
In efforts to reduce some of the issues surrounding waste water treatment, Pasteurization Technology Group has developed technology that allows users to reuse some of the non-potable water, and reduce risks to the the environment or the onsite employees.The process works via cogeneration, which is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single fuel source in a unified system. To start at the beginning, treatment plants require water to enter a vat filled with microorganisms that breakdown organic material in the absence of oxygen (Sinicropi). As a result they produce biogas that can be used for energy production. Often the gas at treatment plants is left alone and rarely put to use, but with wastewater pasteurization, it is the first ingredient needed for a self reliant, sustainable system. The gas is added to a
generator which produces electricity. Rather than be directly emitted into the atmosphere, the hot exhaust created as a result of electricity production directly transfers its heat to a current of water in the process of disinfection. The current nature of the water is essential for the heat to increase the water enough to kill off unwanted microbes within. Wastewater enters the unit at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The water then enters the Preheater unit and is warmed due to the energy transfer from the hot disinfected water to the dirty water. The preheated water is then hot enough to only need a 3 degree temperature improvement to reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which it receives from the direct heat energy of the exhaust from the electricity generator. The now treated water then travels parallel to the current it once was in, and transfers its heat energy to preheat the new untreated water. The heat energy transfer causes the treated water to cool down to levels appropriate for reuse or release into oceans, lakes or streams. (Past paragraph originated from Pasteurization Technology Group.) Here is an informative video that explains the process better than I did. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sKLG76nI0U
As previously mentioned, this system offers environmental, safety and financial benefits to waste water treatment plants and other food or drink processing industries. The renewable energy generation has a low carbon footprint, the system has an 80% energy efficiency and the company claims there is more than a 50% reduction in power generation costs (Pasteurization Technology Group). The system is an alternative to adding chlorine, or treating the water with UV rays- a process that is both expensive and requires high amounts of energy. Food and beverage processing industries would not have to pay the costly sewage fees, as they could release the water onsite. The system allows the water to easily be reused for non-potable purposes, including onsite cleaning cooling and landscaping (Pasteurization Technology Group). The reuse of water could save significant water with no expense to the companies.
The technology is currently installed in the Ventura, CA and Graton, CA water treatment plants, and as they receive more funding they are looking to expand. The group won 5 award across environmental and science organizations for their innovative system, and have been the topic of interest on news channels across the Bay Area. The technology has potential for widespread use across the nation, and now they need time, publicity and funding in order to accomplish their vision.
Pasteurization Technology Group offers an effective and more sustainable alternative to processes in the wastewater treatment system, and allows the system to stay the same while having financial benefits over time. Residential homes and companies can still carelessly waste water down the drain, and production manufactures can still maintain their large scale production yields. This system does not disrupt America’s water habits or sewage system, nor the capitalist endeavors of manufacturing industries. This seems like a near perfect solution to part of a dire issue of climate change , but requires more thought than what’s on the surface. Though Co2 emission would be greatly reduced, some would still be emitted into the air. If there is not enough biogas produced onsite, then operations would need to purchase natural gas and therefore suport the fracking companies.We are still supporting industrial factories that are not conducive. to creating a green plant.
Ideally our water filtration system ought to mimic wetland filtration in nature. Wetlands are natures water treatment plants, as when water run off enters wetlands before entering large bodies of water, the wetlands act by “trapping sediments and retaining excess nutrients and other pollutants such as heavy metals”(Department of Ecology). Obviously the wetlands require no human created energy to be used, which is different from even the Pasturization Technology Group’s current system. There are however, smaller scale wastewater purification systems that filter water at the same location in which it was made dirty, and incorporates a constructed wetland within the filtration process. These systems are being installed in residential buildings, and small ecology sites as well. The eco center at Herons Head Park in the San Francisco Bay Area has developed quite an impressive water filtration system. The system has developed a scaled down wetland, an small scale purification system that allows them to turn wastewater into drinking water. (Filtration system shown on the right) In order to have a chance in beating our past climate mistakes, we as a nation must learn to decentralize and move away from our past industrial ways. Of course this is asking quite a lot and maybe systems like water pasteurization are currently the only reasonable and practical solutions.These small scale filtration systems are also costly and require maintenance which deters the spread and popularity of these systems. However, If smaller scale operations similar to the one at Herons Head were built throughout the US where we could live almost completely off the grid, and filter our own wastewater to drinking water the amount of water and electricity we would save would be frankly inconceivable. Learn about the amazing Eco Center and Herons Head here. http://sfport.com/ecocenter-herons-head-park
Roddy Scheer, Doug Moss Water Treatment Systems Consume Much Energy
Pasteurization Technology Group Alternative to Chlorine and UV
Geoffrey Simate. 2011.The treatment of brewery wastewater for reuse: State of the art, Desalinzation 273(3) doi:10.1016/j.desal.2011.02.035 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0011916411001615
Keith Gribbins The growing challenges of brewery wastewater systems.
Patricia Sinicropi, Biogas Production at Wastewater Treatment Facilities
Department of Ecology Functions of Wetlands http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/wetlands/functions.html