A California Winery Transforms Waste Into Energy

With fossil fuels no longer a viable option for powering new industry, it is vital that businesses look for alternative ways to harness cleaner, more renewable sources of energy. For one California winery, that means finding a way to use their waste water as a self-renewing form of fuel.

MSNBC recently reported that Napa Wine Company in Oakville, Calif., is one of the first commercial businesses in the country to experiment with a new renewable method for generating hydrogen fuel from waste water.

Most people don’t realize that there are several ways to utilize wastewater for energy, and many water treatment plants are already using some sort of energy reclamation process.

“The waste water treatment process can generate energy three ways: burning sludge or excess gas; developing a dewatered cake or dried product to burn at a power-generating station or cement plant; and anaerobic digestion, the oldest and most common source of energy,” reports AmericanCityandCounty.com.

At the Napa Wine Company, this reclamation takes place in a generator no bigger than a normal refrigerator. Waste and water from the grape disposal and equipment cleaning processes are funneled into the generator and immediately start to be eaten by the microbes waiting inside. With the addition of a little electric current, the bacteria quickly break the organic materials left in the wastewater into hydrogen gas.

According to the MSNBC report, the company already has on-site waste water treatment and recycling, and the partially treated water from the hydrogen generator will join other water for further treatment and use in irrigation.

The experimental generator will continuously process about 1,000 liters of wastewater a day. Eventually, the winery would like to use the hydrogen to run vehicles and power systems.

But what about businesses that aren’t producing wine, or any other organic waste product? One city in Florida has already implemented a plan for reusing the waste water most of us contribute to without even thinking.

Earlier this year, the City of Sanford started using a unique MaxWest system gasifies treated waste water sludge to provide renewable “green” thermal energy to replace energy from natural gas for the City’s sludge dryer. The energy in sludge is converted to heat safely and economically.

The innovation in these projects and similar efforts around the world, are evidence that we no longer need to rely on the dying oil industry to power our lives. Supporting more research and development for renewable technologies is the way of the future.

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Image Credit: www.northernlightswine.com

37 comments

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

Michael C.
Michael C.6 years ago

A great example of the "Yankee ingenuity" that once helped make America a world leader, and could do so again.

Nyack Clancy
Nyack Clancy6 years ago

Nice to see...the way to go! One of the ONLY ways to go, Solar and Water...

But? we probably wont make the change as a nation until we are completely out of fossil fuel and there are no more profits to be made.

David H.
David Hansen6 years ago

Now if the treatment plants just relied that they could be making much more energy with all that methane they produce then we would be on a roll.

Paul Diamond
Paul Diamond6 years ago

Until clean coal becomes a reality a long way from now. We need to find a way to encourage co generation plants adjoining steam power generation plants.
A steam power plant starts w/ superheated steam at about 2000 degrees F. By the time it makes its way through 3 or 4 turbines it is cooled to about 700 degrees. That is plenty hot enough to render biofuel and distill ethanol. w/ enough heat left over to process food or other industrial processes.
~;^}>

Shailja M.
Shailja Mukhtyar6 years ago

A credit to small companies that silently make a big difference, b/c they had a great leader, w/ a concience & a heart , who used their brain & put few bucks to initiating this! Kudos to the winery.

I think they also support planting trees on treewala.com where 20 ?ns right, result in a tree!! its an underused site, so far 3 pm ny, only 78 ?ns today.. less than 4 trees today. Please answer ?ns, donate to theis site, and buy their wine!! Support the unsung heroes of our time!! & become a champion of change yourself!

I challenge the care 2 family, as You bring trees into your home this season, effortlessly, during ads of your favorite show, answer ?ns, and replace a few trees!!

PS- i found this site through care2 treehugger pages!! & supported 150 trees in 2 months!! you can too!!