Founders Brewing Company and the City of Grand Rapids unveiled a new partnership on Monday that will convert the 80 to 100 thousand gallons of wastewater Founders pours down the drain each day into renewable energy. Grand Rapids Mayor Roslynn Bliss said the effort will bring the city closer to her goal of running on 100% renewable energy by 2025.
“I want to give my personal thanks to everyone who worked so hard on getting us to where we are today, there is a lot of work that went into this,” Mayor Bliss said. "Public and private partnerships are what this city is built on," she said.
During the first phase of the plan, the city will build three tanks that each have a capacity of 1.4 million gallons in operation by next year. An underground collection system will pump those gallons of waste from Founders directly to the wastewater resource recovery facility. Bio-digesters will then convert that waste into methane gas which will provide 60 percent of the energy needed to power the plant, saving Grand Rapids over $1 million in electricity costs each year. In addition, the city will be able to harvest phosphorous from the process and make a profit.
“We’ll turn that carbon from those bio-solids into methane, and out of that methane we’ll get about 1.6 megawatts of electricity, and then we will set up a phosphorous recovery system where we will recover phosphorus," City environmental services manager Mike Lunn said. "And we will likely be able to sell that, because phosphorous has only a few mines left and is in limited supply.”
In addition to Founders, wastewater from Coca-Cola, Amway and SET Environmental will also be harvested.