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.