Phoenixville to Build First Hydrothermal Carbonization Plant in North America

sky view of a business
Image via Google Maps.
Phoenixville's current sewage treatment facility.

Phoenixville plans to build the first hydrothermal carbonization plant in North America at a municipally-owned wastewater treatment center, writes Kenny Cooper for WHYY.

“We could spend money doing the same old, same old and not change anything,” said Borough Manager Jean Krack. “Or maybe we can spend the money and improve the outcome and be more of a sustainable community as we move forward in the things that we do.”

At this time, the wastewater treatment plant is the municipality’s largest user of energy. Phoenixville officials believe that, given time, this new setup will also evolve it into being an energy producer.

Currently, the facility uses anaerobic digestion to function. The present process in which bacteria break down organic matter releases methane into the atmosphere within a couple of weeks to a month.

Hydrothermal carbonization, on the other hand, takes only hours and breaks down matter using a combination of pressure and heat. Some of this process’s byproducts can be used to power the operation.

Officials are planning to start carbon-neutral electricity generation by 2024.

Phoenixville is the first community in Pennsylvania that has committed the borough’s operations to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2035.

Read more about the planned hydrothermal carbonization plant at WHYY.