Orbital Biocarbon and PYREG innovating wastewater sludge treatment

Pittsburgh-based project company Orbital Biocarbon has announced a partnership with PYREG, a German enterprise renowned for its carbonization technology. This collaboration aims to transform the disposal of wastewater sludge into a sustainable and financially viable operation that complies with stringent environmental regulations.

Orbital Biocarbon specializes in solutions for managing wastewater sludge, turning what is traditionally seen as waste into valuable resources like commercial-grade biochar, which can be used as fertilizer or a building material additive. Additionally, this process generates renewable energy and carbon dioxide removal credits, providing a triple benefit of waste reduction, energy creation, and environmental preservation.

The timing of this partnership coincides with new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which now require water utilities to actively monitor and eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” from their water supplies. These substances, often found in wastewater sludge, can pose serious health risks if they enter the water system. PYREG’s technology addresses this challenge by destroying PFAS contaminants, thus helping utilities meet the new EPA mandates and protect public health.

One of the unique aspects of this partnership is Orbital Biocarbon’s strategy to finance these initiatives. The company secures upfront capital for the construction and operation of on-site disposal facilities through the sale of future CO2 removal credits. This approach not only avoids the need for public debt financing but also minimizes operational risks for water utilities, allowing them to extract value from wastewater sludge.

The urgency of implementing these solutions is recognized nationwide, with various stakeholders acknowledging the benefits. Rob Luksis, Chairman of the Canonsburg-Houston Joint Sewer Authority in Pennsylvania, highlighted the economic and environmental advantages of the partnership’s approach compared to traditional disposal methods. “Before our collaboration, we thought the only option was expensive and potentially hazardous landfill disposal. Now, we can turn our waste into a resource,” Luksis remarked.

As Orbital Biocarbon and PYREG continue to roll out their technology, the potential for transforming wastewater management into a carbon-negative and PFAS-free process becomes increasingly apparent, promising significant environmental and economic benefits across the United States.

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