On January 27, 2017, the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC) was proud to host an announcement of the first large project to receive funding under its Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) program.
GE Water & Process Technologies (GE) will work with the University of Guelph (U of G) along with McMaster University, to test new ways to reduce energy consumption while at the same time generating energy from the wastewater treatment process and utilizing beneficial resources from wastewater.
“The consumption of energy in wastewater treatment is substantial,” said Glenn Vicevic, Product Management Executive, GE Water & Process Technologies. “The ability to reduce energy consumption while increasing production is an opportunity to transform the economic and environmental sustainability of wastewater treatment. By working with SOWC and the Universities of Guelph and McMaster on this pilot, we are gathering critical data to improve energy recovery and bring new technology to market.”
Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
“Canada is committed to investing in clean energy technology producers because clean technologies – such as those that will result from this sub-project – have the potential to advance the way communities manage their resources, consume energy and improve quality of life” said MP Longfield.
The announcement was made at U of G’s cutting-edge wastewater pilot facility, where much of the AWT project activity will take place. Built in partnership with SOWC and the City of Guelph, the facility allows access to variable streams of wastewater from the municipal wastewater treatment plant for technology testing and demonstration.
The project will support GE’s demonstration and commercial release of a complete “energy neutral” solution for wastewater treatment. GE unveiled the new pilot installation of its advanced anaerobic digestion technology. Engineering professor Sheng Chang is U of G’s lead researcher on this part of the project. It will enable optimization of this advanced biosolids treatment, using real wastewater, to enhance production of biogas (which can be used to generate electricity) and help to inactivate pathogens while extracting nutrients for beneficial reuse.
A second major component of the GE solution is the ZeeLung Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR) which is designed to use oxygen much more efficiently than conventional fine-bubble aeration in the activated sludge process, significantly reducing overall energy consumption during the wastewater treatment process. This part of the project will be led by McMaster University researcher Younggy Kim and will include the development of a numerical model simulation and includes a full scale pilot installation at a facility in London, Ontario for validation.
The AWT investment includes nearly $600,000 through both the U of G and McMaster projects. GE will invest $900,000 for the project.
Provincial funding to SOWC was also announced at the event, by Member of Provincial Parliament Liz Sandals on behalf of Reza Moridi, Minister of
Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS). The investment of $500,000 from MRIS will allow SOWC to build on the GE project and other innovative technology development by Ontario companies for capturing value from the treatment of wastewater, building on Ontario’s strength in this emerging area. Subsidies are available through this funding to support some of the costs of building or moving a pilot unit to undertake an AWT project.
MPP Sandals noted “we are proud to be a part of this important pilot. Our government is committed to finding innovative new ways to conserve energy. Supporting projects like this is part of our plan to fight climate change, strengthen the economy and create jobs.”
SOWC’s Advancing Water Technologies program, which supports collaborative, industry-led technology development projects, is funded by FedDev Ontario through a $12-million contribution announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in 2016. Initially created to support projects with contributions of up to $100,000 it was recently amended to allow larger projects. The program will continue to accept applications until December 2017.
“This first large AWT project epitomizes what SOWC is all about,” said SOWC Executive Director Brenda Lucas. “We connect the needs of industry with Ontario’s academic expertise and enable real-world testing in unique facilities to help bring innovative technologies to market.”