Turning Wastewater into Energy
All of Metro Vancouver’s five wastewater treatment plants use wastewater to generate heat or electricity (or both). Metro Vancouver is conducting ongoing research to find other ways to create energy from wastewater.

Producing energy from waste

A cutting edge approach turns sewage sludge ino biogas:

 

 

Annacis Island WWTP Co-Digester - October 2012Annacis Island WWTP Co-Digester - October 2012217538352

Generating heat and electricity at treatment plants

Wastewater treatment plants use a lot of energy and create greenhouse gas emissions. They also have the potential to be sources of renewable energy for the region.

Four of the region’s wastewater treatment plants use sewage to generate energy on site. The Annacis Island and Iona Island treatment plants produce both heat and electricity (known as “co-generation”) on site, while the Lion’s Gate and Lulu Island treatment plants produce heat.

This energy is then used to help operate the wastewater treatment plants. By generating energy on site, Metro Vancouver’s treatment plants reduce their operating costs, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.   

How it works

The wastewater treatment plants use anaerobic digestion to generate heat and electricity on site. During anaerobic digestion, microorganisms break down organic materials from wastewater. The methane gas produced from this process is then used to generate heat and electricity that is used in plant operations.

Projects and Initiatives

Several projects are currently looking at new ways to generate energy from wastewater: ​

  • A pilot project at the Annacis Island wastewater treatment plant is testing how to use energy-rich waste from sources like food processing and restaurant grease to generate heat and electricity. This energy could then be used by the treatment plant to help meet its energy needs.
  • The Lulu Island wastewater treatment plant is testing technologies that will create more biomethane from its treatment processes. The biomethane will eventually be sold to Fortis BC, providing additional energy for the region.
  • Research is being conducted on using wastewater, which is full of nutrients, to grow algae. This algae could then be turned into biofuel that could replace gas or gasoline.
  • Metro Vancouver is working to enable municipalities to use energy from sewers to heat nearby buildings.
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