Waste Water Recycling

One-megawatt Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell Power Plant                              

                        Fuel  Cell Integration

Short proposal outline


1.  Introduction:


Many commentators on future global energy supply indicate that as much as 60% of the energy generated by year 2050,will have to be supplied by non-polluting sources. In year 2005 scientific consensus is moving forward on global warming. The scientific models for predicting climate change last century, have all “pointed’ to increased greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and such models have thus given considerable “weight” to the science of greenhouse gases causing global warming.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified forty-four(44) different greenhouse gases(GHG) relative to carbon dioxide(CO2).The resultant was called a Global Warming Potential(GWP),and the GWP for carbon dioxide was set at one(1).Each different gas has its own GWP figure which reflects its corresponding cumulative radiactive force relative to carbon dioxide(CO2).


Methane (CH4) is a potent GHG and in 1995 its relative GWP was ~twenty (20). Biogas contains substantial quantities of methane (~60%), and as a consequence it must be prevented from entering the atmosphere, as it is ~twenty (20) times worse than carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane and biogas emissions by example can come from defunct coalmines, the farming of animals, government / private waste storage and wastewater recycling plants to mention only a few.


Energy risk is as well spoken of quite frequently by consultants and government officials alike. They echo the above difficulties of energy supply and global warming continuously. Most in Australia to year 2005 have conveniently left out hydrogen and fuel cell technologies I have noticed. Their comments on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as being “distant” are incorrect. They make these assumptions continuously because they know they have no association with their origin from within Australia, they “toe” political or organisational guidelines, or they simply do not need to take a risk.


Commentators will have much to say I am sure when the micro-fuel cell is released in year 2007 to power many electronic products, and again in year 2010 when GM and other car manufacturers release their fuel cell powered cars to the world. Such commentators at that time I am sure will be reminded of their respective past comments.


The FCIA along with Hecresa consulting have created numerous reports and project proposals since year 2003,highlighting the “Stepping Stones” towards the future on how to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) dramatically. This report again “strides” to create through real application, fuel cell integration with what the state of NSW has actually planned for its future in The Greater West of Sydney.Also keep in mind that Hecresa originally issued the “Smart House” project to NSW ministers from year 2003,depicting the critical future need for water and power infrastructure offset, with decentralised power and water systems, including scalable waste water recycling.


2.0 Background:


Tuesday 8 February 2005. Premier Bob Carr, Planning Minister Craig Knowles and Minister for Energy and Utilities Frank Sartor made a joint announcement on a major investigation into providing recycled water for land releases in Northwest and South West Sydney. Recycled water is useful for toilets flushing and outdoor use, and will mean big savings of high-quality drinking water in up to 150,000 new homes.

The Premier announced that the new scheme would be a major public / private partnership that could save around 80 billion litres of water a year - equal to 80,000 Olympic swimming pools.

All of the new homes built in Sydney must now be BASIX compliant. Combined with the new water recycling scheme this will make these neighbourhoods among the most environmentally friendly in the country. The cost of the scheme is estimated at around $560 million. Other water recycling projects in Sydney have increased in the use of recycled water over the last 10 years from 6.2 billion litres to 14 billion litres a year.

Olympic Village -Homebush Bay Waste Water Recycling

The $13.8m WRAMS which will provide 852 megalitres of recycled water each year from sewage effluent and stormwater has three key construction components:

o       A wastewater reclamation (sewage treatment) plant (WRP).

o       A water treatment plant (WTP) to provide tertiary treatment to effluent from the WRP and stored stormwater.

o       A 300-megalitre-stormwater-storage reservoir using the lower levels of the Homebush Bay brick pit.

The WRP has a capacity of 2.2 ML/day and receives incoming sewage from Newington Village, the hotel and Olympic venues such as Stadium Australia and the Showground facilities. The plant adopts an activated sludge treatment process which relies on the biological breakdown of sewage which is a standard practice. The compact 1,500-m2 plants are located in the Waste Service Liquid Waste Plant on Hill Road.

The Water Treatment Plant (WTP) draws on secondary treated effluent from the WRP and stored stormwater in the brick pit as source waters. It has a capacity of 7 ML/day and uses continuous micro-filtration and reverse osmosis technology provided by US Filter, in addition to chlorination and dechlorination processes. The WTP also has a storage capacity of 7 ML/day discreetly located underneath the WTP which provides a buffer storage during the hotter summer months.

The recycled water will be used for toilet flushing in the Newington Village and Olympic and Showground venues and for irrigating the Millennium parklands.

3.0 Proposal:



The proposal is to integrate direct fuel cells (DFC’s) into wastewater recycling facilities. The DFC’s will utilise the biogas to efficiently produce electricity, with low emissions. The facilities targeted are the future wastewater recycling plants planned for in The Greater West of Sydney to deal with its future 150,000-house expansion to year 2020.


Biogas is the product of anaerobic digestion (AD) of waste biomass. Anaerobic digesters are found in municipal wastewater treatment plants, in industrial facilities that process agricultural products, and on farms that raise livestock such as cattle, pigs, chickens, and turkeys. A related type of biogas is landfill gas, although both the nature of the waste and the nature of the reactor (the landfill cell) produce a much richer content of impurities in the gas. Biogas consists mostly of methane -- about 60% in most cases, but up to 80-90% for some advanced systems. The balance is carbon dioxide, plus small amounts of impurities (usually sulphur compounds).


The anaerobic digestion process itself is beneficial, in that it breaks down waste materials and greatly reduces water pollution. If the biogas is used as an energy source, additional benefits are obtained. Not only are useful energy products generated from a renewable biomass source, but the venting of methane (a potent greenhouse gas and a valuable fuel) is prevented. If the energy conversion system is a fuel cell cogeneration plant, this ensures that the efficiency of electricity production will be high and emissions will be extremely low.



Main points of the proposal;

Ø                  Uses a renewable fuel (wastewater digester gas).

Ø                  It produces electricity efficiently (50%) / CoGen (80%).

Ø                  Emits fewer pollutants than combustion engines.

4.0 Feasibility:



A market and economic feasibility study of fuel cells for the wastewater industry, was completed by the engineering firm of CH2M Hill in May 1997. The study revealed that fuel cell power plants could be cost competitive with engine driven and turbine power plants to recover energy from digester gas. The advent of carbon trading schemes would place further high values on methane elimination.



5.0 Recent applications:


DANBURY, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 23, 2005-- Fuel Cell Energy, Inc. (NasdaqNM: FCEL), Alliance Power and the City of Santa Barbara announced today the dedication of two Direct Fuel Cell(R) (DFC(R)) power plants at the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Facility. The DFC power plants that generate 500 kilowatts of renewable power are now providing electricity and heat for the facility's wastewater treatment system and are reducing harmful emissions by operating on the methane gas generated from the anaerobic gas digestion process.

King County's Wastewater Treatment Division, FuelCell Energy Inc., and the Office of Wastewater Management of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are working together to sponsor the world's largest demonstration project of a molten carbonate (MCFC or "Direct") fuel cell using digester gas (methane) as fuel. With the help of federal grant funding, the demonstration project is aimed at testing the technology and the claims of high-energy conversion efficiencies and low air emissions for fuel cells.


If the demonstration proves successful, full-scale fuel cells could provide some electricity used at the King County treatment plant and at other municipal wastewater treatment systems. In the United States alone, 400 treatment plants produce enough digester gas to generate 1MW of electricity each, from a stationary fuel cell.


Issued 2.3.05

     Fuel Cells (Australasia)


NOTE: A new bio-fuel cell system has been discovered by where waste water can produce many times more hydrogen than just a digestor.This technology may therefore be substitutional to the above within three(3) years.