Treating wastewater uses a lot of energy. Uniquely, though, in Oregon’s Clackamas Country increasing volumes of wastewater provide the treatment plant with energy. Since August 2021, the Tri-City Water Resource Recovery Facility has been producing clean water, fertilizer for non-food crops, and green energy. Naturally occurring microorganisms break down organic matter in an oxygen-free environment in three anaerobic digesters. The methane they produce is transferred to a new 600 kW lean-burn co-generation engine, which converts it into heat for five of the buildings and an estimated 4,324 megawatts of electricity, half the facility’s energy usage. They expect to save about $619,000 on power and $191,000 on heat annually over the engine’s life. With wildfires a growing threat to the area’s power supply, the potential energy independence the system creates could prove increasingly critical.

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