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 October 7, 2015 - 5:09 PM EDT
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DC Water leverages technology first in North America to generate clean, renewable energy from wastewater

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Today DC Water unveiled its $470 million waste-to-energy project that is producing a net 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the wastewater treatment process, providing clean, renewable energy to power about one-third of the Blue Plains plant's energy needs. DC Water CEO and General Manager George S. Hawkins was joined by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg, U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Hogan and local officials to commission the project.

Experience the interactive Multimedia News Release here:

CAMBI thermal hydrolysis vessels in foreground, anaerobic digesters in the background.

The facilities include a dewatering building, 32 sleek thermal hydrolysis vessels, four concrete 80-foot high anaerobic digesters that hold 3.8 million gallons of solids each and three turbines the size of jet engines.

The project, which broke ground in 2011, was only viable through the use of innovative technology never before used in North America. DC Water brought the CAMBI® thermal hydrolysis process to the continent, and Blue Plains is now the largest thermal hydrolysis installation in the world. Thermal hydrolysis uses high heat and pressure to "pressure cook" the solids left over at the end of the wastewater treatment process. This weakens the solids' cell walls to make the energy easily accessible to the organisms in the next stage of the process—anaerobic digestion. The methane these organisms produce is captured and fed to three large turbines to produce electricity. Steam is also captured and directed back into the process.

Finally, the solids at the end of the process are a cleaner Class A biosolids product that DC Water uses as a compost-like material. Biosolids products are currently being used around the District for urban gardens and green infrastructure projects. 

"This is yet another example of the District leading the nation in the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices," said District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser. "DC Water's Blue Plains facility is converting waste to clean water and a nutrient-rich soil byproduct, producing energy and helping to put the District on the path towards a zero waste future."

CEO and General Manager Hawkins said, "This project embodies a shift from treating used water as waste to leveraging it as a resource. We are proud to be the first to bring this innovation to North America for the benefit of our ratepayers, the industry and the environment."

DC Water conducted more than a decade of research before bringing these facilities online. Their world-renowned wastewater research program includes dozens of researchers conducting their Ph.D. and masters theses on DC Water projects.

For more information, please visit:

A first in North America: CAMBI thermal hydrolysis vessels for wastewater to energy process.


A rare look inside a concrete digester during construction. The digesters are full of biosolids now.


Building a digester in 2013.


Speakers at the unveiling of DC Water's wastewater to energy project plant a tree with Class A biosolids generated at DC Water's Blue Plains plant.


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Source: PR Newswire (October 7, 2015 - 5:09 PM EDT)

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