What's the best way to deal with waste from 35,000 horses? Turn it into energy, of course. The city of Sanford, Florida, located in a region dubbed the "Horse Capital of the World", is converting wastewater sludge from the South Water Resource Center into renewable energy.
Sanford's system currently works by removing moisture from treated wastewater sludge in a natural-gas powered dryer. The dried biosolids are then hauled off-site. But next week, a gasification system will fire up to transform treated sludge into thermal energy, replacing the natural gas in the dryer and turning the facility into a closed-loop system. The system will process 100,000 tons of waste from Sanford as well as surrounding cities and private waste haulers.
Sanford's new system translates into lots of cash—over $8 million in avoided natural gas expenses over the project's 20-year contract.
The gasification facility is just one of a number of waste-to-energy projects from Texas-based MaxWest Environmental Systems, which is also working on an ethanol plant, a plastic recycle plant, and a wood pellet plant. Sanford's system, however, is the country's first gasification facility for municipal sewage.