(The team in front of the thermal hydrolysis plant)
Nobody wants to have a dry cake on their birthday, unless you work at record-breaking Long Reach sewage works.
The site’s thermal hydrolysis plant (THP), which treats sludge – a by-product of the sewage treatment process – before it’s turned into biogas and then renewable energy, has just celebrated its first birthday.
The THP helps the sewage works produce more than 50,000 kWh of electricity every day, which is enough to power 4,838 homes – the same as a town the size of Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds.
It has processed 8,500 tonnes of sludge – the same weight as 50 blue whales – and with population numbers in the area predicted to increase, demand is set to continue.
Andrew Webb, site performance manager at Long Reach, said: “It has been an eventful year and a steep learning curve for the team, and has taken a lot of hard work from all involved to achieve what we have.
“To have processed this amount of sludge in our first year of running the plant is testament to the hard work of the team, and we look forward to generating more and more renewable power in the future.”
The THP was first brought into operation on August 12, 2016, managed by a team of six engineers, and since then, the site records for the most energy produced in a 24 hour period, and a week, have both been broken.
The sludge is processed through the THP, before it is sent to the anaerobic digestion machine.
The biogas produced from digestion is then put through the site’s combined heat and power (CHP) generator, which is what turns the sludge’s biogas into renewable energy.
Processing it through the THP first increases the gas yield by a third, increasing power generation.
After the sludge has been digested for between 16 to 20 days, it is processed in state-of-the-art Bucher Presses to produce dry cake, which is then put to land by the bio-recycling team.
Thames Water is investing millions of pounds to make the company’s systems more efficient and sustainable, working towards making the wastewater side of the business 50 per cent self-powered within two years.