Home Publisher's Point of View Sewage Heat Recovery Technology: A Potential Game Changer

Sewage Heat Recovery Technology: A Potential Game Changer


I had a conversation by e-mail this past week with Lynn Mueller, president of International Wastewater Systems. Lynn’s company is doing some things that I suspect none of you are doing. If I am wrong, please correct me. What International Wastewater Systems is doing is recovering heat from the wastewater that leaves buildings—not just the greywater from laundry, showers, etc., but also the blackwater. Yes, believe it or not, energy can be pulled from the wastewater that is flushed down the toilet. I will be posting an article about what Lynn’s company is doing this coming week. Be sure to watch for it.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, roughly $40 billion worth of energy goes down the drain in the United States each year. Much of that is released from hotels. There are certainly technologies used in our industry to recover heat from the laundry operation, dishwashing, ventilation, etc., but for the most part our industry is just as guilty as any other for not recovering useable heat.

Water leaving a building into the sewage system is much warmer than that coming into a building. The challenge is to capture that heat and transfer it to the incoming water so that it does not have to be heated as much. With the help of a heat exchanger, Lynn’s SHARC series sewage heat recovery system captures the heat from the sewer water (temporarily separating out any solids) and transfers it into clean water. This now-warm, clean water supplies heat pumps with the energy required to produce potable hot water. At the end of the cycle, the sewer water picks up the solids that were extracted at the start and flushes them back into the sewer system.

A High-Tech System

Required as part of the SHARC system is a wastewater storage tank to ensure that energy is available when it is needed. The system has a control panel which is the brain that runs the system, and it has remote monitoring capabilities so that the status of the system can be observed from anywhere in the world.

Lynn told me it is easiest to install one of his company’s sewage heat recovery systems during construction of a new building but said it is possible to retrofit an existing building. International Wastewater Systems’ new technology has been installed in several buildings so far. One project, the 65-suite Seven35 Building in North Vancouver, B.C., has experienced a 75 percent energy savings on the production of domestic hot water and a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gases related to water heating.

International Wastewater Systems is not a Green Lodging News advertiser and my point here is not to promote just that company. I was just so impressed by the potential for this technology to be used in hotels that I had to write something about it. Hopefully, from this day forward, the type of technology written about here will be part of the discussion when new-builds or renovations are discussed. I will provide more details in my article this coming week.

Got comments? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com, or by phone at (813) 510-3868.

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