Albany County sewer district installs CHP technology to make clean energy from waste heat



Officials from the Albany County Sewer District and New York State on Wednesday unveiled a multi-stage combined heat and power system that will save the county an estimated $400,000 per year.
This $8.6 million Organic Rankine Cycle heat-to-energy technology was recently installed at the North Plant and was unveiled to the public and media at an open house held this morning. The project was made possible through a $2 million award from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and an additional $5.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding provided through the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp.

The system works through the recapturing of heat generated through the burning of dewatered and evaporated sludge. The plant has always burned sludge for disposal, but this is the first time the heat has been recaptured for increased efficiency.

Through this technology, the district will generate up to 3.3 million kilowatt-hours of power annually, reducing the county’s energy costs by an estimated $400,000 per year. In addition, heat from this process will be captured and used for building heat during colder months.

"Governor Cuomo strongly supports the investment in renewable energy power. The project at the Albany County Sewer plant demonstrates the positive impact CHP technology can provide to municipalities including annual energy savings and cleaner, more efficient energy production," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "Albany County should be commended for its investment in this renewable energy project that is helping make it more sustainable and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and demand on the electric grid.”

“Albany County and the Albany County Sewer District competed against nearly 300 other green projects in winning a grant through New York State’s Green Innovation Grant Program,” said EFC President and CEO Matthew J. Driscoll. “A primary goal of the Green Innovation Grant Program is to increase the awareness and use of sustainable, energy-saving technologies in New York and Albany County’s unique system will undoubtedly spur similar projects in the rest of the state.”

“Albany County's Waste Heat/Co-generation project will help the county carry out our green agenda by creating renewable energy, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 1,500 tons per year and reusing 50,000 gallons of water daily to cool the system,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “Our partnership with NYSERDA and EFC funding on this project will help us move forward with to make county facilities more energy efficient and to implement sustainable practices. In short order, the Sewer District will be saving electricity, water and natural gas while reducing greenhouse gases with one of the most-advanced and innovative projects constructed in the state.”

“This project is in total concert with the County Executive's leadership to make sure the county reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gases,” said Richard J. Lyons, executive director of the Albany County Sewer District. “The project will provide long-term environmental and economic benefits to the District's eight member communities, which serve a population of 200,000. The innovative aspects of this project will serve as a template for use by other communities in the state."

"This project is a terrific addition to the Albany County infrastructure. It will benefit the environment, by cutting down on power consumption from the grid, and it will also benefit the county taxpayer by reducing operating expenses to the tune of $400,000 per year. My thanks to NYSERDA and the EFC for their roles in providing funding to this innovative combined heat and power system," said State Senator Neil Breslin.
"This unique and innovative project indicates that investing in renewable energy is not only valuable to the environment but taxpayers as well," said Assemblyman Phil Steck. "Lower costs for taxpayers and a cleaner environment for our families are the benefits when the State and County work in unison.”

The North Plant was built 40 years ago, and disposes of 7,000 dry tons of sewage sludge annually. The path to clean energy begins with the dewatering of the sludge, followed by evaporation of remaining water, creating a dry sludge that becomes flammable. Up until commissioning of this project, the incineration process hadn’t captured the waste heat from combustion of the sewage sludge.

With this project, the heat now runs through a closed-loop oil system, which captures heat and pumps it to the combined heat and power (CHP) system. The Organic Rankine Cycle turbo-generator works through the expansion and contraction of devices through heating and cooling to generate power. With this system, this plant has the ability to reduce up to 75 percent of its consumption from the electric grid.