Philadelphia, April 12, 2012 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter, the Philadelphia Water Department and Philadelphia-based NovaThermal Energy have partnered to be the first site in the United States to deploy a commercial scale geothermal system that provides building heat using domestic wastewater. Mayor Nutter, Novathermal Energy partners, City and U.S. Department of Energy officials and community partners held a ribbon-cutting and tour at the Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant where the project has been implemented.
“I am proud to say that Philadelphia is taking another groundbreaking step in becoming the greenest city in America,” said Mayor Nutter. “Partnering with a Philadelphia-based company and using innovative technology, we have achieved a win-win for energy efficiency and economic development. We will be able to save on costs and energy resources at a City facility while commercializing a technology that can be used in large commercial and industrial buildings throughout the country.”
The project demonstrates the City’s commitment to incubate new businesses, deploy clean energy technology as part of its Greenworks Philadelphia goals, be a leader in resource recovery and explore new markets for revenue.
“This project is another example of PWD’s commitment to diversify our energy portfolio as part of our pledge to be a sustainable and cost-conscious utility,” remarked Water Commissioner Howard Neukrug. “The development of technology that essentially recycles wastewater by extracting its energy for reuse is innovative and demonstrates PWD’s national leadership in resource recovery.”
Commercialization of this technology is designed to significantly reduce energy use in large commercial and industrial buildings throughout Philadelphia and the United States. This project is one example of the Department’s long-term plans to add resource recovery to its facilities environmental protection portfolio.
The City of Philadelphia incurred no costs or outlay of expenses for this project, made possible through funding provided by the City of Philadelphia’s Greenworks Pilot Energy Technology Grant program, which is supported by federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Energy. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of SE Pennsylvania additionally contributed with a grant to support measurement and verification technical assistance.
The project consists of a 1 million BTU/hr unit located in the building’s basement from which heat is directly accessed from the adjacent sewage channel. While the technology can be scaled to a much larger size, this project serves to prove the technology’s energy savings in the U.S. context. At the Southeast Plant, NovaThermal Energy will demonstrate its ability to provide heat at approximately 50% of current cost, realizing $216,000 of savings over 15 years.
About the Philadelphia Water Department
The Philadelphia Water Department serves the Greater Philadelphia region by providing integrated water, wastewater and storm water services. The Department’s mission is to plan for, operate and maintain both the infrastructure and the organization necessary to purvey high quality drinking water, to provide an adequate and reliable water supply for all household, commercial and community needs, and to sustain and enhance the region’s watersheds and quality of life by managing wastewater and stormwater effectively.
About NovaThermal Energy
NovaThermal Energy’s wastewater geothermal energy efficiency technology saves up to 60% in building heating and cooling costs. The system combines a water source heat pump with a patented filtration device to transfer heat energy directly from sewage, using wastewater flows as a heat source. NovaThermal taps into the existing municipal sewer infrastructure, eliminating the land area and cost of geothermal piping or borefields, making the system feasible and affordable for buildings with large energy load requirements.
NovaThermal Energy is a Philadelphia-headquartered company, bringing its proven energy efficiency technology to market in the United States. The company holds an exclusive license for this Chinese technology, and is the US patent holder for improvements to the system.