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Advancing Resource Recovery from Biosolids and Biosolids as a Resource Christine H. Radke, PMP Research Program Director Education Seminar - Collaborative Biosolids: Fuel for Thought Richmond, Virginia Thursday, May 11, 2017

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  • Advancing Resource Recovery from Biosolidsand Biosolids as a Resource

    Christine H. Radke, PMPResearch Program Director

    Education Seminar - Collaborative Biosolids: Fuel for ThoughtRichmond, VirginiaThursday, May 11, 2017

  • About WE&RF

    Established 1989 Established 1993

    Merged July 2016

    CORE PROGRAM ELEMENTS• Applied research in water and environment• Accelerating innovation and adoption of technology• Transferring knowledge• Setting an industry research agenda

    Providing exceptional water research to advance science and technology

  • Virginia Utility Subscribers

  • • Residual and biosolids related research make up almost a third of WE&RF’s overall research portfolio

    • Completed research valued over $20 million• Research in biosolids crosses several WE&RF “Issue Areas”

    WE&RF’s Biosolids Research

    Resource Recovery

    Energy Compounds of Emerging Concern /

    Trace Organics


  • Energy ResearchWE&RF Program LeadLauren [email protected]

    mailto:[email protected]

  • What is the nationwide potential to recover energy from the wastewater sector?• There is more energy in wastewater than is needed for treatment –

    about 5X more• Total energy potential is 851 trillion BTU/year




  • A decade of energy research for the water industry

    Energy Demand

    Energy Recovery

    Promote greater utilization of

    anaerobic digestion and


    Advance low energy treatment


    Enable energy recovery from


  • WRRF energy balanceBNR with AD-CHP

    • 31% of influent chemical energy remains in dewatered biosolids• 33% of influent chemical energy converted to digester gas• Supplemental Carbon for BNR requires significant energy to produce (2.3 times

    energy in per COD energy out)

    Sankey Diagram from WE&RF ENER1C12 “A Guide to Net-Zero Energy Solutions for Water Resource Recovery

    Facilities” (PI – Steve Tarallo, Black & Veatch)

  • Renewable energy opportunity

    With Co-digestionWithout Co-digestion

  • Food waste – co-digestion feedstock

    • USEPA (2015) estimates that 35.2 MM tons of food waste are discarded annually with an energy content of 132 T BTUs

    • Source separated organic food waste

    • Food industry waste streams (such as yogurt factory waste)

    • Grease trap and restaurant / institutional wastes

  • What are WRRFs co-digesting?High Strength Organic Wastes (HSWs)

    Source: WE&RF ENER8R13 “Developing Solutions to Operational Side Effects Associated with Co-Digestion of High Strength Organic Wastes”

    (PI – Matthew Van Horne, Hazen & Sawyer)

    Average amount – 20 MG/yearGlycerin, Aircraft Deicing Fluid

  • WE&RF research to advance co-digestion of organic waste with wastewater solids


    TreatabilityGas productionCost and performanceOperational metricsTBL DecisionmakingCase Studies


    Understanding Operational Side-effects of Co-digestion- Utility Survey- In-depth Analysis studies- Understanding stochiometric relationships - Business Case Evaluation


    Science and Solutions for Moving Co-Digestion into Best Practices- Expert/Practitioner NSF Workshop- Framework of Best Practice

  • Barriers and drivers influencing biogas use for renewable energy

    Convert to Electric Power Upgrade to RNG for Sale or Use

    • Barriers to sale to grid as distributed power

    • Must use onsite• Conversion loss to electric

    power• Electric provider agreements

    reduce any cost savings even from use onsite

    • RECs available in some states• Must remove contaminants

    (water H2S, siloxanes)

    • Access/market for biogas as RNG unknown

    • Under Renewable Fuel Standard - Cellulosic RINs available when used as vehicle fuels as well as Advanced Biofuel RINs

    • RECs available in some states• Must remove contaminants

    (water H2S, siloxanes)

  • Renewable fuel standards (RFS)RIN classification codes

    Category Code Description of FuelCellulosic Biofuel D3 Any process that converts cellulosic biomass

    to fuel: ethanol, renewable gasoline, biogas-derived CNG and LNG

    Biomass- Derived Diesel D4 Biodiesel, renewable diesel, jet fuel, heating oil

    Advanced Biofuels D5 Biodiesel, renewable diesel, sugarcane ethanol, heating oil, waste digester-derived CNG and LNG

    Renewable Fuel D6 Corn ethanolCellulosic Diesel D7 Cellulosic diesel, jet fuel, heating oil

    March 2016 - WEF Biofuels Task Force

  • Is the RFS here to stay?

    • WRRFs and the Renewable Natural Gas industry need assurances that the RFS will stay.

    • There have been several unsuccessful attempts to repeal the RFS. These are ongoing and may be successful under the new administration.

    • Speak up to retain the RFS and thwart any repeal efforts for the benefit of biogas to RNG projects at WRRFs.

    “The oil industry has made a concerted, organized, and well financed attack on the RFS. A lot of focus has been on EPA…, but the oil industry has gone to court to limit the impact of the RFS …and to Capital Hill to curtail or restrict the RFS.”- Tom Vilsack, former US Agriculture Secretary

  • Research needs

    • Cheaper and better biogas cleanup technologies• Siloxanes particularly challenging

    • Lack of easy quantification methods• Switch to better adsorbents – such as silica gels• New innovative technologies for siloxane removal

    Pilot testing silica gel adsorbents for better siloxaneremoval

  • Resource Recovery Research

    WE&RF Program LeadChristine [email protected]

    mailto:[email protected]

  • Resource recovery research area

    OBJECTIVE: Transition the wastewater treatment industry to one focused on resource recovery (starting with nutrients) with the vision that most, if not all, materials in wastewater can be commoditized.

  • Phosphorus recovery• Quantify incentives and barriers to adopt phosphorus recovery

    technologies.• Provide decision making guidance to apply and/or implement

    phosphorus recovery technologies.• Research phosphorus recovery technologies at pilot or bench-scale to

    determine viability for commercial development.

    COMPLETE: NTRY1R12 “Towards a Renewable Future: Assessing

    Resource Recovery as a Viable Treatment Alternative” (PI – Ron Latimer, Hazen & Sawyer)

  • Nitrogen recovery• Quantify incentives and barriers to adopt nitrogen recovery

    technologies. Note that technologies which recover nitrogen and nitrogen-based products are the primary consideration.

    • Provide guidance for application of nitrogen recovery technologies by different size wastewater utilities.

    • Research nitrogen recovery technologies at pilot or bench-scale to determine viability for commercial development.

    ONGOING: STAR_N1R14 “Nutrient Recovery Through Urine Separation”

    (PI – Krista Wigginton, University of Michigan)

  • Optimization of resource recovery• Determine the trade-offs involved in choosing one resource

    recovery path over another so utilities can make better informed decisions when altering/investing in infrastructure and operational changes to improve and optimize resource recovery (in conjunction/coordination with two other WERF challenges – Energy and Water Reuse).

    ONGOING: NTRY9T15 “Sustainable Struvite Control Using Residual Gas from Digester Gas Cleaning Process”

    (PI – Jeff Prevatt, Pima County, AZ) NTRY12R16 “Unintended Consequences of Resource Recovery on Overall Plant Performance:

    Solving the Impacts on Dewaterability Properties” (PI – Matt Higgins, Bucknell University) NTRY13R16 “Understanding the Impacts of Low-Energy and Low-Carbon Nitrogen Removal

    Technologies on Bio-P and Nutrient Recovery Processes” (PI – George Wells, Northwestern University)

    UPCOMING: Literature review of resource recovery from sidestream of co-digestion focused on ammonia recovery

  • Organics, microconstituents, and other commodities• Determine state-of-the-science for recovery of organics, micro-

    nutrients, and other commodities.• Research recovery technologies for commodities such as carbon-based

    organic compounds (e.g., fermentation products, methanol, esters, other alcohols, hydrogen peroxide, caustics, thermoplastics from biophosphate polymers, etc.) at the pilot or bench-scale to determine viability.

    COMPLETE: NTRY3R13 “Beyond Nutrients: Recovering Carbon and Other Commodity Products from

    Wastewater” (PI – Wendell Khunjar, Hazen & Sawyer) NTRY5R14 “Producing Value-Added Biopolymer from Methane Gas Generated by Water

    Resource Recovery Facilities” (PI – Molly Morse, Mango Materials)ONGOING: NTRY4R14 “A Multi-Platform Approach to Recovering High Value Carbon Products from

    Wastestreams” (PI – Kam Law, Greeley & Hansen; Chris Wilson, HRSD) NTRY6R14 “Production of Bioisoprene from Wastewater” (PI – Nicole Buan, University of

    Nebraska-Lincoln) NTRY8R15 “Plasmids and Rare Earth Elements from Wastewater” (PI – Kevin Gilmore,

    Bucknell University)

  • High quality biosolids

    • Define the standards and specifications needed for WRRFs to cost-effectively produce and more successfully market high quality, safe, and stable biosolids in areas across the country, with identified benefits for both the generator (WRRF) and the end user.

    ONGOING: NTRY7R15 “High Quality Biosolids from Wastewater”

    (PI – Trudy Johnston, Material Matters) NTRY11T15 “High-Tech Analysis of Low-Tech Methods

    for Sustainable Class A Biosolids Production” (PI – Jennifer Becker, Michigan Technological University)

  • High quality biosolids from wastewater (WE&RF Project NTRY7R15)

    Principal Investigator:

    Trudy Johnston

    Co-Principal Investigator:Chris Peot

    Project Goal: To significantly expand biosolids use by helping define the standards and specifications for WRRFs to cost-effectively produce and more successfully market higher quality, safe, and stable biosolidsin areas across the country, with identified benefits for both the generator and the end user

    Project Team

  • Project background• National priorities shifting from treatment to

    resource recovery• 40 CFR Part 503 Standards

    • What it does do:Protects public and human healthPromotes distribution to areas with low public access

    • What it does not do:Define stabilityDefine ability to store productMeet customer requirementsPromote distribution in high public access areas

  • Task 1 – Assessment of HQB derived products• Utility partners will provide “customer

    ready” biosolids products to assess for quality characteristics

    • Biosolids odor potential will be assessed using a human odor panel employing internationally accepted procedures

    • Potential odor-related parameters to be evaluated include pH, TVS, VAR (SOUR, SRT, etc.); as well as proteins, and "new" respiratory techniques.

    • Attractiveness to house flies will also be included in the assessment of biosolids

  • Treatment technologies and biosolids products represented


    2 3

    Anaerobic Aerobic Undigested

    Digestion Method




    Belt/Screw Press Centrifuge Thermal drying

    Dewatering/Drying Method


    4 3

    Cake Products(

  • Interesting findings to date…• Samples selected revealed a wide range of mean odor

    concentrations represented by range:• Low odor – 8%• Medium odor – 45%• High odor – 47%

    • Lowest odor products were blended products

  • • Compare the attributes of newly developed EQ and HQB products specially tailored for urban soil use with existing products for the purpose of identifying critical characteristics necessary to guide by-product and recipe development

    • Determine, demonstrate, and promote the benefits of high quality biosolids-based products to improve disturbed urban soils and to enhance the establishment and growth of vegetation under environmentally stressful conditions

    Task 2 – Demonstrate use of HQB

  • Interesting findings to date…

    • Blended productswere successful in germination studies

    • Biosolids products were not successful when representing the entire root zone media

    • Estimate of PAN was accurate

  • • Identify key factors of HQB programs by surveying utilities (marketing tools, product sales and distribution) and customers (products used, important characteristics and influencing factors to buy product

    • Develop guidance tool by comparing utilities’ and customers’ responses and identifying the commonalities

    • Test the template by using products identified in Task 2 in the DC, MD, VA market

    Task 3 – Develop a template for the use of HQB products

  • Interesting findings to date…

    28 utilities participated in survey Average daily flows ranged from 0.033 MGD to 300 MGD (median – 42.2 MGD) Majority of respondents use mesophilic anaerobic digestion with no pretreatment


  • Task 4 – Communication and social media• Communicate the results of the HQB

    research• Create a community of partners in the HQB

    research• “Tell the story” to a broader audience

  • Want to get involved with theHQB research project?

    Join High Quality Biosolids Group on LinkedIn –

    Like the High Quality Biosolids Facebook Page –

    Follow on Twitter –


  • High-tech analysis of low-tech methods for sustainable Class A biosolidsproduction (WERF Project NTRY11T15)

    Principal Investigator:Jennifer G. Becker,


    Co-Principal Investigator:Eric A. Seagren, Ph.D.

    Overall Research Goal: To study the impacts of environmental factors and biosolids properties on PIO inactivation in low-cost, low-tech methods for sustainable Class A biosolids production

    Portage Lake Water & Sewage Authority

    Gogebic-Iron Wastewater Authority

    Project Team and Partners

  • Project Background

    • USEPA’s approved methods for Class A biosolids production, including Processes to Further Reduce Pathogens (PFRPs), are generally energy intensive

    • Low-cost, low-tech treatment methods applied at ambient conditions could be more appropriate to reach Class A status

    • Lack of information on the inactivation of pathogen and indicator organisms (PIOs) under ambient conditions

  • Phase 1 - complete

    • Provides a guide to design and construct a pilot-scale test bed

    • Methods are provided for monitoring pilot test environmental conditions (e.g. ambient temperature, solar radiation, precipitation), physical/chemical properties of biosolids over time (e.g. in situ temperature, TS, VS, pH, VFAs, NH3 content), and PIO densities (i.e. fecal coliforms, coliphage, enteric viruses, helminth ova)

    • Starts the development of an experimental approach to provide data to verify adequate PIO reduction is achieved

  • CECs/Trace OrganicsResearch

    WE&RF Program LeadLola [email protected]

    mailto:[email protected]

  • OBJECTIVE: To provide the frameworks, tools, and data that utility and industry managers need to:1. determine wastewater treatment

    effectiveness to optimize removal; 2. evaluate potential public health and

    ecological impacts; 3. support facility design; and4. enhance effective risk

    communications and risk management decisions by wastewater utilities, land appliers, manufacturers, and regulatory agencies regarding trace organics in treated effluents, receiving waters, in water for reuse, and biosolids-amended soils.

    Compounds of Emerging Concern (CECs)/Trace Organics

  • Developing exposure and toxicity data for priority trace organics in biosolids (WE&RF Project TOBI2R15)

    Project Goal: to gather data for conducting biosolidsamended-soil risk assessments for three high-priority trace organic compounds: polybromiated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), azithromycin, and ciprofloxacin.

  • Key outcomes

    • Risk assessments for human health and the environment from exposure to the target trace organics as a result of land application of biosolids.

    • Benchmarks for human and ecological health• Enhanced and effective communication by

    stakeholders.• Measures to assure the safety of biosolids land

    application practices about trace organics.


    Completed literature search identifying data for risk assessment.

    Developing human health benchmarks of the target compounds.

    Conducting soil and biosolids sorption studies.

    Developing analytical methods.

    Project meeting June 14, 2017 during the W3170 Annual Conference - Los Angeles Environmental Learning Center Hyperion, California

  • WE&RF opportunities

    Request Due Date WE&RF Contact

    Subscriber Priority Research Program• 4-5 projects with

    maximum funding level for any single project of $50,000

    Pre-proposal due Thursday, June 1, 2017

    Stefani [email protected]

    Unsolicited Research Program• $304,748 split among

    3-4 projects

    Pre-proposals due Thursday, July 13, 2017*Approx RFP release date for pre-proposals Monday, May 15, 2017

    Lola [email protected]

    Paul L. Busch Award• $100,000 grant

    Nominations due Thursday, June 1, 2017

    mailto:[email protected]:[email protected]

  • WE&RF Research Staff Contacts

    Jeff MosherChief Research [email protected]

    Lauren Fillmore, M.S.Senior Program Director (Energy)[email protected]

    Walter GrafProgram Director (Intelligent Water Systems and Asset Management)[email protected]

    Julie MintonProgram Director (Water Reuse and Desalination)[email protected]

    Lola Olabode, M.P.H.Program Director (Trace Organics/Compounds of Emerging Concern and Linkages in Water Quality)[email protected]

    Christine Radke, PMPProgram Director (Resource Recovery and Nutrients)[email protected]

    Harry Zhang, Ph.D., P.E.Program Director (Integrated Water and Stormwater)[email protected]

    mailto:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]

  • WE&RF Staff Contacts

    Development & Subscriber ServicesAmit Pramanik, Ph.D., BCEEMChief Innovation & Development [email protected]

    Dorn SandersBusiness Development [email protected]

    Allison DeinesDirector of Special [email protected]

    LIFTJeff Moeller, P.E.Director of Water [email protected]

    Aaron Fisher, Ph.D.Technology & Innovation [email protected]

    Fidan Karimova, M.S.Water Technology Collaboration [email protected]

    mailto:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]

    Advancing Resource Recovery from Biosolids and Biosolids as a Resource�Christine H. Radke, PMP�Research Program DirectorAbout WE&RFVirginia Utility SubscribersWE&RF’s Biosolids ResearchSlide Number 5Energy ResearchWhat is the nationwide potential to recover energy from the wastewater sector?�A decade of energy research for the water industryWRRF energy balance�BNR with AD-CHPRenewable energy opportunityFood waste – co-digestion feedstockWhat are WRRFs co-digesting?�High Strength Organic Wastes (HSWs) WE&RF research to advance co-digestion of organic waste with wastewater solidsBarriers and drivers influencing biogas use for renewable energy Renewable fuel standards (RFS)�RIN classification codesIs the RFS here to stay?Research needsResource Recovery ResearchResource recovery research areaPhosphorus recoveryNitrogen recoveryOptimization of resource recoveryOrganics, microconstituents, and other commoditiesHigh quality biosolidsHigh quality biosolids from wastewater (WE&RF Project NTRY7R15)Project backgroundTask 1 – Assessment of HQB derived productsTreatment technologies and biosolids products representedInteresting findings to date…Task 2 – Demonstrate use of HQBInteresting findings to date…Task 3 – Develop a template for the use of HQB productsInteresting findings to date…Task 4 – Communication and social mediaWant to get involved with the�HQB research project?High-tech analysis of low-tech methods for sustainable Class A biosolids production (WERF Project NTRY11T15)Project BackgroundPhase 1 - completeCECs/Trace Organics�ResearchCompounds of Emerging Concern (CECs)/Trace OrganicsDeveloping exposure and toxicity data for priority trace organics in biosolids (WE&RF Project TOBI2R15)Key outcomesWE&RF opportunitiesWE&RF Research Staff ContactsWE&RF Staff Contacts