Department of Energy Briefing on LIFT and the Energy-Nitrogen Nexus

Staff from WERF and WEF briefed the Department of Energy (DOE) in May on the Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT) and the Energy-Nitrogen Nexus. The briefing highlighted WERF’s latest research on energy and nutrient removal, along with new technologies being explored under LIFT which will enable agencies to transition to the Utility of the Future. Representatives from EPA participated in the briefing which will inform and expand interagency dialogue on innovation and the intersection of energy and water. Analysis of WERF research indicates that:

  • Energy-saving best practices can contribute significantly (40%) toward energy neutrality. 
  • Maximizing carbon management is important for energy recovery or reuse.
  • Mainstream short-cut nitrogen removal process for N removal is critical for energy neutrality.
  • Innovation is key and needs to be moved into practice.

In helping to move innovation into practice, several LIFT Focus Areas were of interest to DOE including Energy from Wastewater, Shortcut Nitrogen Removal, Digestion Enhancements, and Biosolids to Energy. WERF is conducting peer reviews of several biosolids to energy demonstration projects being implemented at San Francisco Bay Area facilities as part of the Bay Area Biosolids to Energy Coalition and has a new biosolids to energy demonstration project under development.

DOE is very interested in waste to energy processes, as well wastewater energy production and savings/conservation, in particular the significant savings that can be achieved in nutrient treatment through short-cut nitrogen removal and deammonification processes. Further dialogues are planned to exchange information, help inform new initiatives, and provide leveraging and coordination of efforts.