Villanova Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Metin Duran, PhD, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to present at the Global Methane Forum. Hosted by the Global Methane Initiative, the forum brought together worldwide leaders in technology and policy to discuss ways to both limit methane emission, and to utilize it in beneficial ways, particularly as an energy source. With high-level representatives from 57 countries and the United Nations, the forum marked another step forward in the fight to control climate change across the globe.
Director of the College’s Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology Laboratory, Dr. Duran was invited to speak at the prestigious forum to share his expertise and experience in using methane to produce energy. In the conference’s “Biogas Case Studies” session, he and Paul Kohl, program manager for the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), presented “How Philadelphia Water Moved from Flaring their Methane to a Co-Generation Plant with 5.6 MW of Power Generation.” The presentation highlighted the cost efficiency and environmental sustainability of the beneficial use of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
The use of methane for large-scale power production is a significant step towards limiting fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions. As the technology gains a footing in the international community, its impact will continue to grow. Dr. Duran explains: “The technology PWD adopted—converting methane from wastewater to electricity and heat— is one of the long term solutions and it is a mature technology. It is certainly expanding at a high rate both in the U.S. and worldwide.”
Dr. Duran’s research concentrates on the application of biological processes for wastewater treatment and water quality control. His work with PWD began more than a decade ago, culminating in the last five years with his investigation into the use of anaerobic digestion to convert the fats, oils, and greases present in wastewater into methane, and, consequently, the use of methane as a renewable energy source. The PWD fully implemented his research in 2013 with the construction of a power plant that now generates 5.6 megawatts of power using the methane taken from the wastewater treatment process.