Houlahan, Borough of Phoenixville Announce $250,000 Department of Energy Prize for Innovative Wastewater Treatment
PHOENIXVILLE – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan and the Borough of Phoenixville are thrilled to announce the SoMax BioEnergy/Borough of Phoenixville wastewater treatment project has been awarded the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Resource Recovery Prize, which is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). With just two finalists nationwide, this $250,000 award will help advance the next stage of a cutting-edge water recovery platform which will turn wastewater into an energy-producing, revenue-generating product at a municipal-owned facility.
“The designs these teams came up with could revolutionize how wastewater treatment plants process sewage, agricultural runoff and more,” read the NREL announcement. “It could not only save money but also rescue valuable resources that are currently lost.”
“The day after Hurricane Ida swept through our community, I vividly remember assessing the damage in Phoenixville,” said Houlahan. “It stuck with me because we were told that the floodwaters came close, too close, to permanently damaging many of the local government facilities such as the wastewater treatment plant. It would have devastated a community already hurting from the historic floods. To go from that potentially catastrophic setback to receiving this coveted federal recognition is truly remarkable and indicative of the innovation of our community. I was more than happy to help by supporting their application. I’m overjoyed to know that this one-of-a-kind project will continue to grow."
As part of their application, the SoMax BioEnergy/Borough of Phoenixville team also submitted a comprehensive video highlighting the innovative project.
“This endorsement from the DOE increases the confidence SoMax BioEnergy has that our technology is ready for adoption and replication at municipal wastewater treatment plants throughout the U.S. to decarbonize an essential service critical to human and environmental health,” said Dan Spracklin, Founder and CEO at SoMax Circular Solutions.
"Throughout our history, Phoenixville Borough has always led the way on game changing technology," said Phoenixville Borough Council President Jonathan Ewald. “I, along with my colleagues on Borough Council, are extremely proud to continue this tradition of innovation by building the infrastructure of tomorrow, today. This system represents an important step in municipal government innovation that improves the local environment, lessens the borough's long-term dependence on fossil fuel energy, and improves the overall efficiency of taxpayer money. It is my hope that the SoMax project represents the first of many regional infrastructure improvement projects that are built with the best interest of future generations in mind.”
“The Hydrothermal Carbonization concept here in North America started with the Borough partnering with SoMax Bioenergy,” said Phoenixville Borough Manager E. Jean Krack. “Borough Council authorized over $3 million in funding to make the necessary changes at the wastewater treatment plant and add the new equipment necessary to begin the proof of concept for treating wastewater. This was followed by support from our County Commissioners with a $402,000 grant and the Commonwealth with $650,000 in additional grant funding through the H2O Program. This prize award is an amazing acknowledgement that Phoenixville is now being recognized on a national scale by the Department of Energy.”
Read more information about this and other DOE ‘American-Made Challenges’ here.
Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Small Business Committee. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward.”