Anaerobic Digestion, Gasification & Pyrolysis Technologies Proposed

VIDEO: Journalists in Palo Alto Discuss the Lack of Progress on Waste Infrastructure

palo alto food waste waste to energy anaerobic digestion composting sewage sludge
© Igor Krivokon via Flickr

When Palo Alto voters went to the polls in 2011 to "undedicate" 10 acres of parkland their objective was to enable the city to manage its own organic waste.

The plan had been to site the facility on Byxbee Park (pictured) adjacent to the sewage treatment plant (the Regional Water Quality Control Plant or RWQCP) for a ten year period while an Energy/Compost Facility was considered for the site.

The facility was intended to utilise food scraps, yard trimmings and wastewater solids in the production of energy and compost. The wastewater biosolids are currently incinerated.

The plan was contentious and sparked a round of campaigning on both sides which culminated in a vote of 65% in favour.

However, a round of feasability studies and procrastination saw more debate over the proposals. Six years later it remains unclear as to the final shape the project will take, including the type of technologies used.

As the economy has boomed construction costs have risen dramaticaly. With estimated costs reported to have gone from $57 million at the time of the vote to around $75 million, alternatives are being discussed.

Among the technologies being considered are gasification, pyrolysis, composting and wet anaerobic digestion.

In the video below Palo Alto Weekly journalists Jocelyn Dong, Gennady Sheyner and Linda Taaffe discuss Palo Alto's latest plans for managing waste and the city's gradual shift away from the type of plant that residents lobbied for when they approved Measure E in 2011.

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