International praise for Qld processor’s waste-to-energy project

Beef Central, 02/10/2019

A FAR-SIGHTED green energy initiative made by beef processor NH Foods Australia at its Oakey Beef Exports facility on Queensland’s Darling Downs is already paying handsome dividends in terms of lower energy costs, reduced fossil fuel environmental footprint and cleaner wastewater effluent.

The project received international recognition this month through finalist nominations in two energy and sustainability categories within the prestigious 2019 Institute of Chemical Engineers Global Awards. major waste-to-energy project designed and implemented by CST Wastewater Solutions extracts green energy (biogas) from Oakey’s wastewater streams to replace millions of dollars’ worth of natural gas over its operating life Biogas extracted from the plant’s wastewater is stored in in a robust 6000 cubic metre polyester balloon (pictured).

The technology involved in the awards nomination is the Global Water & Energy Covered High-Rate Anerobic Lagoon system.

CST Wastewater Solutions recently inspected the plant as it reaches its landmark fifth year of service in southern Queensland.

The plant was found to be in outstanding condition, having required only routine maintenance over the past five years as it continuously produces 3000 to 4000 cubic metres of biogas a day, depending on plant throughput.

“It’s outstanding to receive this kind of international recognition, and we credit NH Foods Australia for their forward-thinking and innovative attitude to sustainability,” CST’s managing director Michael Bambridge said. “NH Foods is leading the way in environmental and sustainable outcomes in the meat industry in Australia,” he said.

“By transforming a wastewater effluent treatment and disposal problem into an ongoing productive asset, the plant has achieved a rare business and environmental ideal of cleaner, greener performance with stable, predictable and profitable supplies of biogas.”

The Institute of Chemical Engineers is the global professional membership organisation for chemical and process engineers. IChemE has grown to its current status of more than 40,000 members across more than 100 countries.

The Energy Award recognises the best project or process to demonstrate innovation in renewable, alternative or nuclear energy, efficient energy use or the development of energy production methods that reduce energy intensity. The Sustainability Award recognises the project, process or product that best demonstrates innovation in waste reduction, recycling, reuse or the lengthening of product lifecycles.

The winners of the 2019 IChemE Global Awards will be announced on November 7 in the UK.

Replacement of fossil fuel

The generated biogas is directly used in the Oakey plant’s boiler to generate steam, replacing natural gas. This leads to replacement of fossil fuels and sharpened cost-efficiencies at a time they are most needed during the current Australia-wide drought.

Instead of effluent being stored in energy-costly and extensive aerated lagoons used by many food and beverage business – with associated environmental, OH&S hazard, water and odour issues – waste at Oakey is converted to biogas by a clean, green and reliable anaerobic digestion process. The system can be applied to any food, beverage or primary processing plant with an organic waste stream.

The compact COHRAL plant involved occupies just half the footprint of comparable covered anaerobic lagoons and a much smaller space required by typical energy-hungry and odorous open aeration lagoons in service globally, Mr Bambridge said.

The pre-treatment prior to wastewater entering the system leads also to better recoveries of protein and fats, which would normally end up in the wastewater stream.

This could be classified as an indirect benefit to the bottom line as well as increasing reliability by isolating clogging waste from the plant’s Waste Water Treatment Plant, he said.

“The wind doesn’t need to blow, and the sun doesn’t need to shine to produce this green energy. It is a highly viable renewable in its own right, which complements the many excellent solar and wind energy sources suited to other projects. Ultimately, the plant will pay for itself with biogas, then go on to produce virtually free energy for many years after that,” Mr Bambridge said.




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