There are a number of ways in which necessary utilities can improve their usefulness and efficiencies with some of them proving to be incredibly innovative. The Fourche Creek Treatment Plant in Arkansas makes use of the natural “products” that are treated every day to produce up to 1.5MW of electricity that it uses to operate the plant. This wastewater plant is part of the plants operated by Little Rock Wastewater.
The treatment plant reduces its pollution output by up to 90% thanks to the combination of a clever treatment system as well as the use of the methane that comes from the sludge that is produced within the plant.
Up to 16 million gallons of wastewater can be processed in the plant each day. The plant takes in the wastewater from southwest Little Rock where it is treated through a biological treatment process using three sets of aeration basins and clarifiers.
The sludge that is produced at the end of the treatment process is stored at the Fourche Creek plant is thickened, digested and stored. The storage process takes place in an oxygen-free chamber over a 30 day period during which time naturally occurring bacteria consume over half of the organic solids and produces water and a number of gases, one of which is methane.
The methane gas is captured and piped to a Generator Building where it is used to produce electricity. Enough methane gas is produced to generate enough electricity to meet up to 60% of the plant’s operational needs.
Here is yet another way in which the renewable energy that comes under the broadly descriptive term of biomass can be used to benefit the community and the environment.