Poo pow­ers waste plant

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - JA­NINE RANKIN

Palmer­ston North’s waste­water treat­ment plant is pow­ered by poo.

Hu­man waste is get­ting turned into elec­tric­ity to op­er­ate the fa­cil­ity.

The city coun­cil has just fin­ished lay­ing a pipe­line suck­ing meth­ane gas from the closed Awa­puni Land­fill to sup­ple­ment bio­gas from solid waste to run a new en­gine to gen­er­ate al­most all of the plant’s elec­tric­ity.

Op­er­a­tions man­ager Mike Mon­aghan said in­stead of flar­ing off meth­ane from the solid waste di­gesters as ‘‘an in­con­ve­nient waste stream’’, the sys­tem used waste as a nat­u­ral re­source.

Un­til early 2016, the coun­cil was run­ning a sep­a­rate gas en­gine at the land­fill. Af­ter its lease was not re­newed, meth­ane gas from the land­fill was wasted.

About 700 me­tres away, the two 2300-cu­bic-me­tre solid-waste di­gesters were not pro­duc­ing enough gas for the en­gine lo­cated at the To­tara Rd plant.

The so­lu­tion was the pipe­line, which will pro­vide enough ex­tra gas for the en­gine to op­er­ate al­most con­tin­u­ously in fu­ture.

Mon­aghan said the sys­tem meant deal­ing with the city’s waste­water was al­most en­tirely pow­ered by re-use of the waste it was pro­cess­ing.

Wa­ter and waste ser­vices man­ager Robert van Ben­tum said the elec­tric­ity cost sav­ings at the plant would cover the cost of the pipe­line project in less than two years.

The whole project to pipe gas from the land­fill, re­lo­cate the gas con­di­tion­ing skid and com­mis­sion the new sys­tem cost about $382,000.

‘‘Not only is the project a ben­e­fi­cial use of a waste gas, but we’re also re­duc­ing our en­ergy foot­print,’’ said van Ben­tum.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

To­tara Rd waste­water treat­ment plant op­er­a­tions man­ager Mike Mon­aghan at the plant.

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