Ground broken on project leading to conversion of biogas into renewable natural gas

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 2:32 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/Roanoke Gas Release/Western Virginia Water Authority Release) - Western Virginia Water Authority and Roanoke Gas Company have broken ground on part of a joint project to produce commercial quality renewable natural gas, or RNG, from biogas produced at the Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant.

The product, which both agencies cite as the first of its kind in the Commonwealth, will need a digester gas conditioning system and interconnect facility at the Water Pollution Control Plant. It was groundbreaking for that project that took place Tuesday.

The agencies say biogas, also known as digester gas in wastewater treatment, a mixture of methane (63%) and carbon dioxide (37%), is produced as a “by-product of the anaerobic digestion treatment process as bacteria consume the organic solids that are removed earlier in the wastewater treatment process. Anaerobic digestion is employed at the WPC Plant as it is a much more energy efficient way to treat solids compared to other methods such as aerobic digestion and heat drying.”

“While this gas has been used as a fuel source at the facility over the years, this exciting next generation of resource recovery of digester gas will utilize a new approach to maximize the benefit to the broader community,” according to Michael McEvoy, Executive Director of Western Virginia Water Authority.

Utilizing an advanced membrane separation system, the agencies say, raw digester gas will be refined to pipeline quality natural gas for use within the greater Roanoke community, “creating the potential for the protection of the environment and complete recycling of waste at a level only imagined a decade ago.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the Western Virginia Water Authority on such an impactful and needed project,” stated Paul Nester, president and CEO of Roanoke Gas Company. “Our shared desires to improve the environment, utilize the best technology and most importantly, serve this community, have spurred approximately $16.5 million dollars of combined investment and added a much needed source of safe, clean natural gas.”

Roanoke Gas projects this new supply source will provide enough natural gas to heat 500 homes on a cold winter day.

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