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Study to assess feasibility of FOGO gasification in Logan

Study to assess feasibility of FOGO gasification in Logan
Logan Water's Loganholme Wastewater Treatment Plant in Loganholme, southeast Queensland (photo courtesy LCC).

In Australia, a Logan City Council study, run in partnership with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the University of Queensland, will investigate the feasibility of converting food and green organic (FOGO) waste into biomethane (aka renewable natural gas - RNG), biochar, and prill (pelletized fertilizer).

At present, the majority of Australia’s household food and green organics (FOGO) waste is sent directly to landfill, producing methane emissions that are damaging the environment and wasting a potential source of bioenergy.

Located in southeast Queensland, between the City of Brisbane and the City of Gold Coast, the City of Logan has a population of almost 350,000 with more than a third of household waste that can be classified as FOGO.

Logan City Council introduced a successful ‘opt-in’ green waste collection service (for garden waste only) in mid-2021, with 20,000 households now participating.

In the long term, the results could support the Council’s application to the Queensland Government’s recently announced GROW FOGO program to help local governments fund the rollout of lime-green lidded ‘organics’ bins and kitchen food waste caddies across southeast Queensland.

First IETS project

The AU$648,411 feasibility study of which ARENA has provided an AU$291,785 grant, will look at diverting FOGO waste from households to produce biomethane (aka renewable natural gas – RNG), biochar, and fertilizer prill at the Loganholme Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

Household food and organics waste can be a valuable source of bioenergy, too much of which is currently going to waste. Logan City Council’s feasibility study will look at how this can be captured, whilst reducing harmful emissions from household waste, said Darren Miller, CEO at ARENA.

Logan Water, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Logan City Council, manages the water supply for more than 125,000 households in the City.

The results of the FOGO study will help the Council investigate and plan for the introduction of a broader FOGO waste collection service in the coming years.

The project is the first to be funded under ARENA’s Industrial Energy Transformation Studies program (IETS).

Launched in 2022, IETS is an AU$43 million program to support feasibility and engineering studies, with a particular focus on agriculture, mining, manufacturing, water supply, waste services, and data centre sectors.

This is the first of many such studies expected to be funded under IETS. Industry faces a pressing emissions reduction challenge that this program hopes to assist with, Darren Miller said.

Successful biomass gasification plant

ARENA previously awarded AU$6.2 million to Logan City Council for a gasification facility at the WWTP.

The gasification facility has been operational since 2022 and uses biosolids (sewage sludge) from the plant to produce renewable energy and biochar.

We’ve worked with Logan City Council before on the gasifier deployment and we’re excited to support them in finding other ways to reduce emissions that can be integrated into their existing work, Darren Miller said.

The biochar from this can be used with liquid from FOGO waste to produce fertilizer prill, with Logan Water envisaging an integrated facility supporting an onsite bioenergy recovery ecosystem.

City of Logan Mayor Darren Power said the FOGO study was another exciting milestone in the Council’s sustainability journey.

Logan City Council is already leading the way in cost-effective, sustainable waste disposal, having pioneered the gasification of biosolids in Australia. With our proven technology already in place, the repurposing of FOGO waste is the next logical step. We are not afraid to dream big when it comes to providing a cleaner, green future for everyone. We’re excited to be collaborating with ARENA and UQ on this study to create a greener future, Mayor Darren Power said.

The study is due to be completed in 2024.

ARENA will also deliver the AU$400 million Industrial Transformation Stream of the Australian Government’s Powering the Region Fund.

This program will support industrial facilities in regional Australia to reduce their Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions in line with Australia’s 2030 targets and transition to net zero by 2050.

The Industrial Transformation Stream is expected to open later this year.

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