What are your facility drivers/needs?
Metro Vancouver plans to implement over $2 billion dollars worth of wastewater infrastructure over the next 15 years, including two treatment facilities that will be built almost from scratch. The projects currently being scoped are opportunities to evolve Metro Vancouver towards becoming a “Utility of the Future.” We view influent streams as a resource and seek ways to cost effectively generate renewable energy, recover nutrients or other usable materials, and reclaim water from liquid waste before returning it to the environment in a way that protects public health. Everything we do needs to be aligned with the goals of the communities we serve.
What new technologies have you been evaluating or implementing?
One academic partner, the University of British Columbia, is currently bench testing sequential anaerobic–aerobic digestion for us. This configuration has been examined by others, but we have a unique opportunity at one of our larger treatment facilities to repurpose an existing digester from anaerobic to aerobic for the possibility of oxidizing ammonia (and other substances of concern), increasing volatile solids destruction, improving dewaterability, and reducing odors linked to biosolids. We see sequential anaerobic–aerobic digestion as a competitive option for consideration compared to much larger capital improvement projects. We’re also examining microalgal wastewater treatment, which is more of a long-term proposition.
What technologies are you interested in investigating?
In addition to being interested in technologies that recover materials and enhance solids stream and liquid stream treatment processes, we would like to examine innovative techniques to better address odor and corrosion issues. We are specifically interested in cost-effective ways to stunt sulphate-reducing bacteria which generate H2S – the root of the problem. The focus here is to implement smarter systems that will administer just the right amount of H2S mitigative measures by continually monitoring changing conditions to target reduction in odors and extend asset life. We are planning to conduct preliminary tests at our Annacis Research Centre.
How has LIFT helped, or how would you like LIFT to help your facility?
The LIFT Program provides rigor to our examination of emerging wastewater technologies. The call for new technology submissions, the screening to defined Technology Development Levels (TDL), the coordination for independent review, oversight of tests, validation of results and assessment of pilot test performance, and the dissemination of findings amongst LIFT subscribers are all part of the three-step process. It’s great having LIFT pool resources and evaluate technologies in a concerted effort across the entire wastewater industry – this would be impossible for a single utility to do. We also value the networking experience, particularly with peer utilities across North America and overseas. In our view, gone are the days when new technologies are piloted at multiple sites by the inventor without independent review or sharing of information amongst the host utilities. So far, LIFT has been a source of acquiring technical knowledge and experience in new technologies, which is preparing us for the challenges ahead.
If there were one technology you would pilot or collaborate on tomorrow, what would it be?
Through LIFT, we’ve signed on to a Targeted Collaborative Research project to bench test hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) and catalytic hydrothermal gasification (CHG) of wastewater sludge. HTL and CHG convert all of the organic carbon matter in sludge to biocrude, methane, and biogenic CO2 with the expectation of using just a fraction of the energy consumed by sludge dryers. A successful bench test at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is expected to lead to subsequent pilot-testing at participating utility sites. All this can’t happen soon enough!