The City of Altamonte Springs is piloting technology that it says could help solve the renewable energy crisis by transforming raw materials into fuel for cars, jets, trucks and more.
Frank Martz, City Manager, Altamonte Springs
The city is working with infrastructure consulting firm AECOM and water technology company Genifuel to showcase the use of hydrothermal processing (HTP) to turn harmful algae and wastewater biosolids into carbon-neutral biocrude oil and biogas.
The demonstration is taking place at the Altamonte Springs Regional Water Reclamation Facility.
The city says it is the first in Florida and the third in the US to trial the technology.
“We are extremely proud to host such emergent technology at our facility as we partner with AECOM and Genifuel to pioneer the next frontier of renewable energy resources,” said Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz.
How it works
Algae has been collected from a local lake since last year and is mixed with solid byproduct from the wastewater facility.
Genifuel’s patented HTP process uses heat and pressure to convert wet waste into biofuel “without adding new carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, similar to the way fossil fuels are formed but in minutes as opposed to millions of years.”
“We’re excited to work with the City of Altamonte Springs and AECOM to demonstrate this game-changing technology, which has the potential to help reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels,” said James Oyler, President of Genifuel. “Our system allows for very fast conversion of the wet organic content, with the output being biocrude oil or natural gas that is nearly identical to natural fossil equivalents, except they release no net new carbon dioxide.”
This technology can be used alongside AECOM’s patent-pending Algae Harvesting Hydronucleation Flotation Technology (HFT), which physically removes harmful algal blooms (HABs), cyanotoxins, nutrients, and carbon from water.
The resulting by-product from these processes can be converted into fuel at an oil refinery.
This could potentially become a revenue source for the city, Martz said.
“It also could create an opportunity for cost savings by using the biofuel as a lubricant, for example, and it could also be used as an alternative fuel supply to run some of our equipment if we modified the fuel systems,” he told capitaltribunenews.com. “We have not come to conclusions, but we are starting to see the opportunities.”
“This demonstration with the City of Altamonte Springs and Genifuel shows how we can take advantage of previously untapped resources to create renewable, clean energy for the future,” said Dan Levy, Vice President and Director of Algae Programs with AECOM.
The pilot will run until June.
Altamonte Springs’ wastewater facility has been home to several other innovations, including a large floating solar array and a wastewater surveillance model for COVID-19.
Altamonte Springs helped build the National Wastewater Surveillance System with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is working with the White House to contribute lessons learned towards national readiness protocols, Martz said.
In 2017, the city also launched a pilot project to treat reclaimed water to make it drinkable.
“pureALTA continues to run and continues to create water that meets or exceeds drinking water standards, and the data continues to inform the State of Florida as it develops regulatory and statutory frameworks for reuse-to-potable water,” Martz commented.
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