High rate anaerobic digester systems for brewery wastewater treatment and electricity generation: Engineering design factors and cost benefit analysis

Technical Session 07: Sustainability Session
Manaf H Farhan, EMG International, Inc., Media, PA, USA
Co-author(s): James Kuhr, The F.X. Matt Brewing Company, Utica, NY, USA; Yassar Farhan, EMG International, Inc., Media, PA, USA

ABSTRACT: A brewery can incur significant costs associated with wastewater treatment and disposal. Increasing financial and regulatory pressures can drive brewery management to consider investment in a wastewater treatment system that will reduce annual operating costs. Anaerobic fluidized bed digester (AFBD) technology with electricity generation and waste heat recovery offers breweries an innovative high rate wastewater treatment system that can provide cost and operations and maintenance (O&M) savings. However, onsite wastewater treatment systems require a significant upfront capital investment and proper long-term operation and maintenance. In today’s volatile and highly competitive business environment, brewery management cannot afford to commit to large capital expenditures for such systems without a detailed technical and economic feasibility evaluation. This paper discusses technical and economic evaluation criteria required for successful implementation of a high-rate anaerobic digester system for breweries. Technical evaluation criteria discussed in this paper include selection of digester technology; evaluation of regulatory and compliance requirements; analysis and determination of brewery wastewater generation rates (average and design flow rate measurement and calculation, hourly, daily, and seasonal variability, and growth projections); required wastewater analyses (chemical oxygen demand, 5-day biochemical oxygen demand, total and volatile solids, nitrogen and phosphorous levels, and pH and temperature trends and variability); high-rate digester system layout and space requirements; ability to handle overloading and shock loading conditions; recovery from operational upsets; and system automation and reliability. Cost benefit analysis elements discussed include evaluation of wastewater disposal costs; brewery energy usage; digester system capital costs; long-term operation and maintenance costs (labor, materials, and consumables); expected sewer savings; energy savings/income; renewable energy credits (RECs); and available grant funding. This paper uses a detailed technical and economic feasibility evaluation completed for a high-rate anaerobic digester system at the F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, NY, as a case study. Based on the results of this evaluation, the Matt Brewing Company is currently installing an AFBD system for wastewater treatment, electricity generation, and waste heat recovery.

Manaf H. Farhan is the president and CEO of EMG International based in Media, PA. He holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Columbia University, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a licensed professional engineer. His doctoral research focused on design and optimization of various anaerobic digester processes to maximize process efficiency and biogas production. He has authored several peer-reviewed articles on anaerobic digestion and has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He has over 20 years of experience providing a wide range of environmental engineering design and consulting services to private industry and governmental clients. His professional experience includes design and construction of digester systems for wastewater treatment and biogas and electricity generation for food and beverage facilities and for dairy farms; technical evaluation, process modifications, and operational support for various full-scale anaerobic digester installations; development and testing of bench- and pilot-scale wastewater treatment systems; pollution prevention and wastewater minimization audits; and biogas collection, clean up, and utilization.