The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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CEE Helps Town of Amherst Get $103,179 in State Funding for Wastewater Source Heat Pump

David Reckhow

David Reckhow

On World Water Day, the Baker-Polito Administration announced$759,556 in grantsto support six innovative technical advancements for wastewater treatment facilities across the Commonwealth. One of those grants went to the Town of Amherst and Blue Thermo Corporation, receiving $103,179 in funding, which will be used to install, monitor, and commission a wastewater source heat pump to provide renewable and consistent heating, cooling, and hot water to the Amherst Wastewater Treatment Plant from a renewable source. The Amherst award was coordinated by the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department, and the main subcontractor doing the work will be our UMass Water and Energy Testing Facility (WET Center).

The WET Center is a multi-purpose resource that is available for use by UMass and non-UMass researchers. It is located on the western edge of the Amherst campus, immediately adjacent to the Town of Amherst's Wastewater Treatment Plant. It includes the UMass Water and Wastewater Pilot Plant and Mill River Monitoring Facility. It is also the home of the UMass Mobile Water Innovation Laboratory.

As CEE Professor David Reckhow and CEE Research Fellow Patrick Wittbold commented, “This project will demonstrate the ability to recover heat from wastewater in a practical manner. Wastewater is usually around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, an ideal temperature for a heat pump to take advantage of.”

They added that “The biggest challenge of recovering heat from wastewater is the fouling that occurs on pipes, pumps, and heat exchanges from the dirty water, making it very maintenance intensive. With the Blue Thermo patented heat-exchanger technology, fouling is reduced to almost zero. The system only needs to be cleaned one or two times per year.”

The total Commonwealth funding of $759,556, awarded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Wastewater Treatment Pilot program, supports publicly-owned wastewater treatment districts and authorities in Massachusetts that demonstrate innovative wastewater treatment technologies showing potential to reduce energy demand and recover resources such as heat, biomass, energy, water, and/or remediate nutrients such as nitrogen or phosphorus.

“Wastewater treatment is an energy intensive process, and we are committed to working closely with municipalities across the Commonwealth to support innovative technologies that lead to cleaner and more efficientfacilities,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts is a national leader in innovation, and we look forward to funding thesewaterprojects to help communities reduce energy use and decrease costs.”

“Supporting these projects will help advance innovative technologies that will significantly improve the wastewater treatment process, which is one of the largest consumers of electricity in our communities,” said Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration is pleased to provide strategic support to municipalities to help them meet their wastewater treatment challenges and help the Commonwealth conserve energy.”

The MassCEC’s Renewable Energy Trust was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1997 as part of the deregulation of the electric utility market. (April 2019)