Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hailey completes ‘bioreactor’ study

Federal grant could pay for composting project

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy graphic The Hailey City Council is exploring federal grant opportunities to build an $8.1 millions vertical shaft bio-reactor to generate heat and recycle water

With potential help from federal stimulus funds, the city of Hailey is considering construction of a "bioreactor" to recycle treated sewer sludge and other recyclable waste, collectively known as biosolids. The process could also provide heat for about 32 homes in Woodside.

In partnership with consultant Morgan Brown of Whole Water Systems of Seattle, the city recently conducted a feasibility study for the $8.1 million project. The study was financed with a $30,000 grant in October 2009 from the Idaho Department of Energy Resources. It showed that Hailey produces enough biosolids to support the bioreactor.

The bioreactor would create 150-degree hot air, Brown said. He said it could be built at the Community Campus in Hailey to showcase the technology, or beside the Woodside wastewater treatment facility.

About 8.8 million gallons of treated water would be produced from the bioreactor. The water could be used to irrigate planned landscaping on city rights of way on Woodside Boulevard.

The study was presented to the City Council Feb. 28 by Brown and his associates for review, and was then sent to the Idaho Office of Energy Resources for review and acceptance, required before the city can apply for a federal grant.

The project would consist of a 90-foot-deep vertical shaft that would be filled with sludge from the Hailey sewer plant, septic tank waste and fats and grease from restaurants.


"Most anything that is compostable will work," said Hailey Public Works Director Tom Hellen. "The real benefit is that it would have a small footprint."

The waste would break down, creating heat to warm nearby homes.

Brown said vertical-shaft bioreactors are used in hotels in Japan, but are fairly new to the U.S.

Hailey and other cities in the area currently truck thousands of gallons of waste sludge each week from wastewater treatment facilities to Ohio Gulch, where it's poured into open lagoons and slowly evaporates.

Hellen said city grant writer Tracy Anderson identified stimulus funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that could be available to help pay for the facility, but no particular grant request has yet been made for the project.

According to the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which was created by the act, about $260 billion of the $787 billion in stimulus funding has been awarded so far. About $133 billion of that money has been spent, creating an estimated 586,340 jobs.

In Idaho, about $1.7 billion in stimulus funding has been awarded. About $1.1 billion has been spent.

Hailey has been awarded about $640,400 in stimulus funds.

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