Mayors and city leaders are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to bring climate solutions to their communities. Grand Junction, Colorado is a standout, particularly for its investment in transforming the city’s sewage into usable power. And so far, the investment is paying off.
A newly constructed wastewater treatment plant helps transform million of gallons of human waste into enough power to fuel the city’s entire automotive fleet—including busses, street sweepers, garbage and dump trucks. The technology has been used for decades through a variety of applications, but Grand Junction is among the first in the nation to specifically use the power to fuel vehicles.
The treatment plant has exceeded the expectations of critics. The plant currently generates the equivalent of 460 gallons of gasoline per day, and by not having to spend this money on fuel, the treatment plant will pay for itself in as few as seven years. There will also be significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The utility estimates 60-80 percent reductions in emissions from the methane that would otherwise be burnt as excess runoff.
Mayors throughout the country can follow the lead being paved by Grand Junction. A recent report by Energy Vision has identified over 8,000 farms, 17,000 wastewater facilities and nearly 2,000 landfills across America, which could be utilized for similar waste-energy production. To facilitate this expansion, mayors and community leaders must work with residents to pursue investments in this new technology. To collaborate with mayors on similar climate solutions, get connected by joining Path to Positive Communities.
No matter how you spin it, the business of raw sewage isn’t sexy. But in Colorado, the city of Grand Junction is making huge strides to reinvent their wastewater industry – and the result is like finding a diamond in the sludge.
The Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant is processing 8m gallons of Grand Junction’s human waste into renewable natural gas (RNG), also known as biomethane. The RNG is then used to fuel about 40 fleet vehicles, including garbage trucks, street sweepers, dump trucks and transit buses.
It’s possible through a process called anaerobic digestion, which breaks down organic matter into something called raw biogas. The biogas is then collected and upgraded to RNG – at pipeline quality – and can be used as electricity, heat or transportation fuel.
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