Photosynthesis: Growing Algae, and the State Too

Wasatch Resource Recovery is a facility operated under public-private partnership between ALPRO Energy & Water and the South Davis Sewer District. The WRR facility will produce nitrogen and phosphorus as a byproduct of anaerobic digestion. These nutrients will then be discharged to the South Davis wastewater treatment plant where the district has started a project that removes them from all of its wastewater. The project is currently in its pilot stages, operating in a single greenhouse. 

The technology, provided by ClearAs Water Recovery, uses algae to remove the nutrients. The full scale project will utilize 140 miles of 4-inch glass pipe installed in a 200 x 450 foot greenhouse. This process cleans wastewater to a level that satisfies Utah State regulations while recovering valuable nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon. Carbon dioxide scrubbed from renewable natural gas produced by our digestesrs will be used to supply necessary carbon for the algae to grow. The digesters will also produce additional nitrogen and phosphorus that can be used to supplement the algae’s nutrient requirements if needed. The project will produce 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of algae per day which will be harvested, dewatered, dried, and sold.  The dried product can be marketed for a variety of uses including bioplastic production, cosmetics, fish feed, livestock feed, bio-diesel, and succinic acid, among others. A few weeks ago, the Utah Division of Water Quality Board toured the pilot facility and seemed pleased with the progress of the project.

Effective and economical from both a regulatory and operational standpoint – the project has the potential to revolutionize the way nutrients are treated and water is recycled in Utah. Producing useful byproducts from waste is a major focus of both Wasatch Resource Recovery and South Davis Sewer District. Revenue derived from a resource that is otherwise seen as a pollutant is exciting and produces both economic and environmental benefits. This project will shed light on the immense potential our refuse harbors in solving problems related to limited resources, space in landfills, and excess waste. 

4th of July Sets Stage for Reflection on Sustainability in America

As the United States celebrates its 242nd birthday, it boasts a 132-fold increase in population since its start, a number quickly approaching 330 million people. With a larger population comes stimulation in the economy, a greater workforce, and additional individuals available to problem solve and innovate. Alternatively, this growth equates to depletion of viable resources, limited space, and access to nature, clean air, and drinking water.

Though it hasn’t always been the biggest priority, the U.S. is beginning to realize the importance and urgency of resource conservation and efficient land use. With initiatives that support air and water quality testing, the progress of renewable energy, and technological innovations regarding waste, wasted resources are being recognized for their true potential. Wasatch Resource Recovery’s project is a pioneer in both Utah and the nation – serving as an example of utilizing waste in ways that benefit surrounding populations and the environment.

In an era of tech, electronic gadgets, plastic, and convenience, it can be easy to forget about our natural counterparts – the resources we consume daily, fill our cars with, or use to power our homes. Even in 2018 it isn’t always easy to alter the way we think about waste, or the way society handles it. On this 4th of July, we hope you’ll join us in taking a moment to appreciate how far this country has come and attempt to make a difference by paying attention to your waste, how you can conserve resources, and notice ways in which you impact the environment.

Waste360 Recognizes WRR’s Morgan Bowerman for Excellent Work in Waste

As sustainability grows and large scale environmental projects become increasingly more common, it is imperative that motivated professionals drive the success of such innovations. At Wasatch Resource Recovery we are proud to host a talented group of engineers, builders, sustainability professionals, scientists, project managers, and more. Managing a $43 million project is no simple task, and without them, none of this would be possible.

In our previous post, Morgan Bowerman represented Wasatch Resource Recovery in the Governor’s 2018 Energy Summit Video. Morgan has championed environmentalism not only with us, but with other organizations in Utah and around the world. In the article above, she describes her experiences in sustainability, most notably: starting a recycling program in Uganda and how that expanded her outlook on environmental change.

Wasatch Resource Recovery aims to revolutionize the way Utah handles its waste by developing technology and infrastructure that allows communities to get involved. This project demonstrates the immense impact that the actions of every corporation, hotel, restaurant, grocery store, and individual has on the world around us. Without the positivity and tenacity of our employees and partners, we could not have come so far or engaged with so many different people. Morgan exemplifies WRR’s vision and our collective desire for change, highlighting the far-reaching impact of individual efforts. In light of her inspiring work, we are excited to acknowledge and congratulate her Waste360 40 Under 40 award. 

WRR Featured at 2018 Governor’s Energy Summit

“Utah’s wired for success, thanks to breakthrough energy technologies and partnership designed to transform our future.” Utah’s current governor Gary Herbert chimes in the video produced for the 2018 Governor’s Energy Summit. As Utah’s population, economy, and dependence on resources grow, alternative energy is becoming a hot topic that has begun to peak the interest of officials in a state predominately powered by fossil fuels.

Wasatch Resource Recovery has played a significant role in this wave of support for alternative and renewable energy sources – offering a solution that not only produces green energy but reduces waste at the same time. Landfills in Utah are reportedly “filling up fast;” seeing as many of them are not far from reaching their full capacity. WRR’s anaerobic digesters will divert organic waste from the landfill, subsequently freeing up space and buying more time, while simultaneously using the food waste to produce useful byproducts for local communities.

Renewable energy is an extremely interconnected aspect of sustainability that has the potential to address other environmental solutions such as waste reduction, resource conservation, and even sustainable architecture or agriculture. As the state strives to support a rapidly growing population, it is of the utmost importance that renewable energy and sustainable technology are incorporated into the infrastructure that sustains millions of Utahns.


Special thanks to the Governor and his Office of Energy for their continued support in our project and for featuring WRR at the 2018 Energy Summit. 

A Closer Look at our Anaerobic Digesters

Wasatch Resource Recovery’s sister tanks fall nothing short of impressive. Each anaerobic digester is built to hold 2.5 million gallons of food waste, with the combined capacity to accept 1000 tons of food waste per day. Once operational, the digesters will produce enough biogas to power 40,000 homes – a town equivalent to the size of Bountiful. The capture and prevention of these greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere can also be compared to taking 75,000 cars off the road.

Structurally speaking, the tanks are not only impressive in size, but in their durability as well. The anaerobic digesters are expected to last for decades into the future, providing long term benefits to numerous communities along the Wasatch Front. While diverting waste from the landfill is an obvious perk, digesters also output several useful byproducts. Firstly, biogas captured during this process is a clean-burning renewable energy source that can be used to power homes and vehicles. Secondly, digestate can be used to produce bio-based fertilizer for use on local farms – providing a great alternative to chemical fertilizers that have the potential to pollute groundwater and soil. Finally, excess carbon can be used to grow algae; which can be dried and used as a bioplastic, to grow hydroponic crops, or even create energy. This system of recycling emulates the sustainable and cyclic natural systems we as humans rely on – and will stand as a hallmark of sustainability in Utah for years to come.

One Year Later, Where Are We Now?

Since breaking ground last June, Wasatch Resource Recovery has grown tremendously. What used to be empty land is now a collection of buildings including a chemical & dewatering building, a depackaging facility, a boiler building, hydrolysis, pressate, digestate and F.O.G. tanks, and of course, two digester tanks!

While the construction is rapidly developing, clients from across the Valley are signing contracts and committing to send their organic waste to the digesters. The support and enthusiasm from corporations, restaurants, grocery stores, and small businesses alike continue to perpetuate the progress of this project and its expected opening in late 2018. Before then, water tests will be conducted on the digesters, with test loads of organic material following soon after.