Sunday, August 16, 2015

Memo to Wisconsin water managers

[Updated, 11:15 p.m.] Portland is the first US city to generate electricity from the downhill flow of water in certain drinking water pipes, so the water and the system serve a dual purpose.

The technology can be added to piping infrastructure when installed, repaired or upgraded - - and like all new technologies, is probably going to get more efficient and affordable as time goes on.

After all, electric traffic signals may soon be powered by energy captured from vehicles braking on pavement, so why not capture energy from water moving inside pipes - - akin to the generation of hydro power generation, but not dependent on water levels, rainfall, temperature, etc.

It strikes me as similar in intention and outcome to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Commission's capture of methane from its landfill in Muskego to reduce long-term energy purchase expenses at the Jones Island treatment plant in Milwaukee at the end of a 19-mile pipeline, and also in the production of Milorganite fertilizer by MMSD.

Water utilities use a lot of electricity to move and pipe water to customers guaranteed to receive it.

Why not think big and use innovation and technology - - just as the MMSD has done with landfill gas extraction and a 19-mile pipeline from Muskego to Milwaukee - - to also repurpose a drinking water system and use some of its overlooked energy?

In fact, look at the cycle that is possible? Clean water from the MMSD produced in part with captured landfill gas flows into city drinking water pipes, producing some clean energy, too.

Why not in Wisconsin, with its water and technology focus in Milwaukee - - and fill me in if I'm a few steps behind.

And if you want what cutting-edge thinking and action looks like when drought is the motivator?

Look to California.

1 comment:

Dunstan Appleton said...

The city of Milwaukee could become power producer by integrating the turbine fins in their supply pipes.