An ongoing partnership between SUEZ Water Technologies and Solutions
(formerly GE Water & Process Technologies) and the University of Guelph aims to offer cities a sustainable solution for wastewater treatment.
Municipalities across North America treat sewage sludge using a biological process called anaerobic digestion that breaks down biosolids, but the current infrastructure is inefficient. U.K. water utility, United Utilities developed advanced technology known as biological (enzymatic) hydrolysis, which was commercialized by Monsal Limited Biological hydrolysis can enable existing anaerobic digestion infrastructure to increase its treatment capacity by up to three times, and condition sludge entering the digester to yield 25 per cent more biogas, a valuable by-product that can be converted into renewable energy. In 2014, GE acquired Monsal to fill out its energy-neutral portfolio. Following acquisition, GE expanded an existing partnership with a University of Guelph
research team to enhance the technology and adapt it for the North American market.
The advanced biological hydrolysis technology not only makes anaerobic digestion more efficient but also has the unique benefit of producing a pathogen-free Class A biosolid, which can be used as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers. With support from OCE’s Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II (VIP II)
program and the Southern Ontario Water Consortium’s (SOWC) Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) program, the team developed a pilot unit demonstrating the technology at SOWC’s facility in Guelph, which opened in January 2017.
The advanced biological hydrolysis technology is an important step toward realizing GE’s goal of enabling energy-neutral wastewater treatment in North America and opens new opportunities for co-digestion of other organics such as food waste. Following the successful pilot, GE is pursuing partnerships with Ontario municipalities to implement a full-scale demonstration of the technology.