Tapping the potential of wastewater for a sustainable future
Argonne scientists assess energy, nutrients and water resources from U.S. wastewater facilities.
It might seem an unlikely partnership, but sewage sludge has a role in a clean energy future.
A bioproduct of wastewater treatment plants, sewage sludge emits methane, a potent greenhouse (GHG) gas that drives climate change. Methane can be captured and used to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) or generate renewable electricity for the plant’s on-site energy needs. This process reduces the plant’s production costs and avoids methane emissions.
Wastewater also contains valuable nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that can be captured and recycled as fertilizer. The water itself can be treated and reused as fresh water.
Most wastewater treatment plants do not currently capture these valuable resources for reuse. Nevertheless, there is significant potential for reaping their benefits, according to scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Argonne’s National Laboratory.