Utility's algae project advances

Utility's algae project advances

February 23rd, 2010 by Kelly Jackson in News

DALTON, Ga. -- The Appalachian Regional Commission plans to award $100,000 to support Dalton Utilities' efforts to use algae to treat wastewater and produce biofuel.

"(The project) has a twofold purpose for us," Dalton Utilities spokeswoman Lori McDaniel said. "We're doing it for nutrient removal in the wastewater treatment process, to remove phosphorus (and nitrogen) in the wastewater stream. The icing on the cake would be to create biofuel that could fuel our (diesel) fleet."

A one-acre pilot facility is "in the start-up phase" and began operating in December at Dalton Utilities' 9,800-acre site off the South Bypass, she said.

Working with the University of Georgia, Dalton Utilities eventually will develop large-scale algae cultivation to treat wastewater and produce fuel at the site if the pilot project is successful, she said.

Dalton Utilities applied for funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission in August. Lasthad preliminary approval.

Lloyd Frasier, assistant planning director for the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, said projects now must submit full applications for final approval.

PDF: 2010 Appalachian Regional Commission projects

PDF: Dalton Utilities Pre Application for ARC funding


* 10 billion to 12 billion gallons: Volume of wastewater produced per year by carpet industries in Dalton

* 200 to 500 tons: Amount of phosphorus found in annual wastewater

* 1,000 to 2,000 tons: Amount of nitrogen found in annual wastewater

* 23,000 tons: Theoretical amount of algal biomass that can be produced each year from wastewater

* $5.75 million: Commercial value of that biomass

* 1 million gallons: Theoretical amount of biofuel that could be produced each year

Source: Dalton Utilities

Ms. McDaniel said Dalton Utilities currently is evaluating "what is required for the final grant application, just to make sure that the project is still consistent with grant requirements."

James Thompson, Georgia's ARC program manager, said Dalton Utilities would need to match the $100,000. Ms. McDaniel said it has invested about $150,000 in the pilot facility.

Mr. Thompson said the "overall thrust of ARC is to generate economic development activity in the region and create jobs for Georgians."

He said alternative energy is one of the agency's key initiatives and the Dalton Utilities pilot project is "unique and innovative" and could have widespread impact.

"Many, many wastewater treatment plants have high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus that occur in the water that comes into the plant," Mr. Thompson said. "If this were to be successful on a large scale, it would mean that, perhaps many other wastewater treatment plants could do this."

Each year, the ARC funds a variety of projects in the Appalachian region across 13 states. This year, Congress appropriated about $76 million to ARC, Mr. Thompson said.

Georgia's 37-county Appalachian region received about $4.7 million, with about $2.4 million of that going to projects in Northwest Georgia, Mr. Frasier said.