Climate

[COP24] The La Farfana biofactory in Chile receives award from the United Nations

For the second year in succession, SUEZ has received the United Nations Momentum for Change award. On 11 December 2018, at the COP24 in Poland, the La Farfana wastewater treatment plant in Santiago de Chile, the world’s first biofactory, received an award.

Located west of Santiago de Chile, the La Farfana wastewater treatment plant is one of SUEZ’s concrete responses to the challenge of climate change. It is one of the five largest plants in the world, and helps to treat the wastewater of the 7 million inhabitants of Greater Santiago.

But La Farfana, the first biofactory in the world, has much higher ambitions. The plant aims to achieve zero waste, zero environmental impact and zero consumption of fossil energy. The plant reuses 100% of the wastewater, by transforming it into new resources, such as biogas to generate electricity and heat, or by transforming sludge into fertiliser for local farmers. 100% of the biogas produced from the treatment sludge is reused.

On 11 December, La Farfana received the Momentum for Change award. This United Nations initiative highlights the world’s most innovative projects in the fight against climate change.

The biofactory concept is applied to all the wastewater treatment plants in Greater Santiago, which include La Farfana, Mapocho and El Trebal. The La Farfana plant is the largest in terms of capacity. The three plants produce 49 million kWh of electricity, or the annual consumption of 50,000 inhabitants, by recycling sludge, and they also produce 177 kWh of natural gas, or the annual consumption of 22,500 inhabitants.

What is a biofactory?

A biofactory is a plant that works according to the principles of the circular economy. The wastewater treatment plant becomes a centre that produces resources (water, nutrients, biosolids) and energy (biomethane, electricity, heat), with a minimal environmental impact (noise, odours, landscaping).

It is a plant that minimises the production of waste and the use of fossil fuels by producing its own energy. The goal is to achieve energy self-sufficiency and zero waste.

The biofactory uses treatment processes that are as natural as possible. In this way, the consumption of reagents and energy is kept to a strict minimum. An energy-sober treatment of nitrogen, coupled with the transformation of carbon into biomethane and dry biosolids (ultra-dehydrated sludge), have enabled the plant to become energy-positive.

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