$18-mil­lion nu­tri­ent re­cov­ery plant turns phos­pho­rus into fer­til­izer

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - DUSTIN COOK dus­[email protected] twit­ter.com/dustin_­cook3

ED­MON­TON A waste­water treat­ment tech­nol­ogy that had its first test in Ed­mon­ton more than 10 years ago has re­turned home to con­vert phos­pho­rus and other nu­tri­ents into three tonnes of fer­til­izer daily for farm­ers across the coun­try.

The $18-mil­lion re­cov­ery fa­cil­ity at the Ed­mon­ton Waste Man­age­ment Cen­tre is one of the largest in the world and op­er­ated by Ep­cor and B.C.-based Os­tara Nu­tri­ent Re­cov­ery Tech­nolo­gies.

“We’re demon­strat­ing to the world what can be done,” Os­tara chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Ahren Brit­ton said dur­ing the plant un­veil­ing Wed­nes­day. “It’s truly sus­tain­able both eco­nom­i­cally and en­vi­ron­men­tally.”

Os­tara’s nu­tri­ent re­cov­ery sys­tem, called Pearl, uses a re­ac­tor to sep­a­rate nu­tri­ents from the waste­water re­ceived from the Gold Bar Waste­water Treat­ment Plant be­fore re­turn­ing it to the North Saskatchewan River, direc­tor Si­mon Thomas said. The sys­tem pro­cesses about three mil­lion litres of liq­uid daily and sep­a­rates about 30 per cent of the phos­phate that flows through the plant.

“It helps re­duce the amount that would end up in the river and cre­ate al­gal blooms and other is­sues,” Thomas said. “Phos­phate is one of the nu­tri­ents that isn’t in abun­dant sup­ply so it’s great to re­move and ap­ply it onto fields where it can be reused prop­erly.”

Re­mov­ing these nu­tri­ents from the wa­ter flow­ing back into the river will have an en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit on aquatic life as well as re­duce main­te­nance costs in the clean­ing of pipes that erode as a re­sult of the phos­pho­rous, Thomas added.

“It’s a few hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars be­ing saved,” said Thomas, not­ing these sav­ings along with the sale of fer­til­izer will off­set most of the oper­at­ing costs to run the fa­cil­ity.

With a plan to pro­duce 1,000 bags of the Crys­tal Green fer­til­izer per year at the fa­cil­ity, Os­tara part­nered with Taurus Agri­cul­ture to mar­ket the en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly prod­uct to farm­ers across the coun­try.

The con­tin­u­ous re­lease fer­til­izer is ac­ti­vated when nu­tri­ents make con­tact with roots and re­duces the risk of runoff, Brit­ton said. It works best with large-scale crops such as pota­toes, wheat and lentils.

Os­tara launched its tech­nol­ogy in 2007 at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia af­ter hav­ing its first pi­lot with Ed­mon­ton, but the ca­pac­ity of the ini­tial sys­tem was too small for the city’s need. With in­creased tech­nol­ogy, Brit­ton said the com­pany is thrilled to be back with a larger sys­tem in the city where it be­gan.

“Ep­cor and the City of Ed­mon­ton are truly demon­strat­ing the val­ues of what’s be­ing branded as a util­ity of the fu­ture, look­ing to fa­cil­i­ties like this as re­source re­cov­ery fa­cil­i­ties rather than waste treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties,” Brit­ton said.

DAVID BLOOM

Ep­cor pres­i­dent and CEO Stu­art Lee, left, and Os­tara chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Ahren Brit­ton at the new nu­tri­ent re­cov­ery fa­cil­ity at the Ed­mon­ton Waste Man­age­ment Cen­tre.

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