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October 2014 Luncheon

Speaker: Dr. Tarek Aziz, NCSU

Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014

Topic: "Sustainable Anaerobic Co-Digestion in Wastewater Treatment"

Presentation: No presentation

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Summary: Dr. Aziz is a faculty member in the NC State Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. He is interested in the interface of environmental process engineering and energy. This includes topics such as the conversion of waste materials to fuel (anaerobic digestion, biofuels, waste incineration, gasification, etc), and sustainability considerations of these, and more traditional, processes. To help explore these research questions he makes use of experimentation, computational fluid dynamics, and life-cycle assessment tools.

About the Topic:  Anaerobic digestion at wastewater treatment facilities, if operated appropriately, can serve as a net energy producer. Despite this fact, as of 2011 the US EPA estimated that less than 10% of wastewater treatment facilities currently with anaerobic digesters utilized biogas for combined heat and power (CHP). Biogas production levels, infrastructure cost, and process stability are commonly cited as reasons why anaerobic digestion is not more widely used. 

One way to enhance biogas and generate revenue at these facilities is through tipping fees received for the co-digestion of high-strength, low-value waste streams. The aim of our research at NC State is to develop co-substrate loading approaches that can sustainably enhance biogas production and to elucidate the favorable microbial community shifts that enable those biogas enhancements.

This presentation will summarize some of the exciting advances our team has made in the sustainable co-digestion of GIW and discuss the techno-economic tool we are developing to explore the feasibility of infrastructure upgrades for further energy recovery from wastewater.

Sponsor:  Duke University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering