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SoCalGas pilot biogas project

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has announced a pilot hydrothermal wastewater processing project has been selected by the US Energy Department (DOE) to receive up to US$1.2 million in federal funding. SoCalGas is part of a consortium conducting the pilot, which will be required to share the cost at a minimum of 50% in order to receive federal funds. The consortium is being led by the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation.

The project will use hydrothermal processing technology to convert wastewater solids into renewable natural gas as well as liquid fuels. DOE funding is expected to pay for about half of the design and planning of a pilot plant to produce these renewable fuels at a municipal wastewater treatment facility near Oakland, California. SoCalGas will help oversee the project's design and assist in obtaining state and federal regulatory approvals and incentives.

The new technology converts waste solids from a wastewater treatment plant into biocrude and methane gas using water, heat and pressure. The biocrude oil replaces fossil oil, providing green fuels with nearly zero net new carbon emissions. The methane gas can be used in the same ways as fossil natural gas.

"SoCalGas and its partners have demonstrated that this process can very effectively convert wastewater solids into renewable natural gas, using existing infrastructure, to help replace fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Jeff Reed, SoCalGas' director of business strategy and advanced technology. "This new technology could have an enormous impact on energy and waste. Converting the wastewater solids produced by treatment plants in the US with hydrothermal processing could produce about 128 billion ft3/y of natural gas and save treatment utilities US$2.2 billion in solids disposal costs. A city of one million people could produce more than 600 million ft3/y of natural gas, save more than US$7 million/y in disposal costs, and power nearly 7000 vehicles per day."

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