The Collegno wastewater treatment plant in Turin has become the largest facility in the world to apply SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel) technology. Thanks to her, of the wastewater from 180,000 people who go to these facilities, biogas will be obtained with which 30% of the plant’s energy demand will be covered to operate, in addition to virtually all of its thermal needs.

By its size and functionality, the plant is unique in the world “, assure Convion, one of the participants in this pioneering project, called DEMOSOFC, in a statement. In this document, the technology firm that has just opened in this factory underlines the importance of capturing the energy value of waste to move towards energy independence and towards emission reduction targets. To do this, the innovation that is already working in Turin works without any impact on air quality.

The commissioning on October 31 of these systems at Collegno will allow three SOFC modules operating in the plant generate up to 175 kW of electricity. In addition to supplying almost a third of what the installations need to operate, the system takes advantage of the hot gases generated to cover a large part of the thermal needs.
Regarding biogas, which achieves a yield of 53%, the plant includes a unit in which, as part of the treatment of wastewater, organic matter is digested by an anaerobic process. From there, biogas is obtained which, after undergoing an absorption procedure, is free from pollutants such as hydrogen sulfide.

Before carrying out this cleaning, as explained by the project participants, the biogas is cooled to guarantee the optimal operating parameters with regard to carbon. From there, the biogas is compressed and analyzed, to feed a flow controller installed in the SOFC unit.

With all this, the Collegno wastewater treatment plants have become pioneers in the use of advanced systems in which their developers see great potential. The technology, which reuses the gas produced during processing to convert waste into energy, could be applied in large factories or in small facilities. So, “Any business that produces organic waste, both from the food industry, such as hospitals or farms, can benefit from it” of this technology to save on invoices and reduce the environmental impact of its production processes or waste management.

With a budget of 5.9 million euros, of which 4.2 million have been provided by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 program, this project is led by SMAT, owner of the wastewater treatment plant in Collegno, in Turin and the Polytechnic University of Turin. In addition, the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is also participating, along with the Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT research center from Finland and the also Finnish company specializing in fuel cell technology, Convion.


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