One of the leading global concerns of today is the proliferation of sewage. With the advent of wastewater treatment solutions, the resulting biosolids are being processed into more useful forms such as fertilizer. But for biosolids to achieve higher adoption, it would have to be converted into a product that can be used as an alternative energy source.
That is the aim of one oil company based in Australia. Southern Oil Refining is developing a wastewater treatment plant in Gladstone, Queensland that’s converting biosolids to fuel. They will be utilizing an existing facility for the project, which is currently being used for re-refining waste oils such as transmission and engine oils.
With help from the Federal Government, Southern Oil Refining is going to receive $4 billion to explore the potential of this facility which is estimated to cost around $11.8 million to construct.
Their partner, Melbourne Water Corporation, will be using their Werribee facility as well as other wastewater treatment plants around Gladstone as a source of the biosolids for the project.
The process of making biocrude from biosolids is done through the heating of dried biomass in an anaerobic environment at a temperature of around 500°C before subsequently being cooled down. It will then result in a tar-like substance which is rich in oxygen. The final step involves the removal of the oxygen stores from the bio-oil in a process called upgrading. From there, the oil can be refined further either into renewable diesel or jet fuel.
Biodiesel would have many applications in several industries. It can be used for vehicular use such as automobiles, trucks, and trains and even be used for powering generators. The potential to convert otherwise discarded wastewater into something as valuable as fuel is what is driving this project forward. They expect to process around 1 million litres of biosolids annually to produce the biocrude using a thermochemical reaction.
Mr Josh Frydenberg, the Australian Minister for the Environment, said that bioenergy projects such as these provide an environmentally better alternative to waste disposal, but it can also help with Australia’s fuel security needs. “With Australia producing over 300,000 tonnes of biosolids through sewage treatment annually, it makes sense to look for options for commercializing its disposal,” Frydenberg said.
Gladstone will become the home of world-class, state-of-the-art technology, according to Federal Member for Flynn, Mr Ken O’Dowd. “Using the skills and some of the world’s best R&D and scientists, there is no stopping this remarkable ‘new age’ company from achieving this huge benefit that was once thought to be a distant aspiration,” Mr O’Dowd said.
Funding for the project is made through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) initiative, which is also funding Australia’s first biocrude and biofuel laboratory also based in Gladstone.
If you are a municipality in Ontario and in need of a biosolids management solution, please feel free to contact us at 1 (877) 479-1388.