Government invests in world first technology in Rotorua



16 February 2013

Rotorua mayor Kevin Winters (left) and Scion CEO Warren Parker at the city’s wastewater treatment plant-based TERAX™ pilot project.

Generating income from waste is now possible for Rotorua District Council with a $4.7m Government grant to build a world leading waste treatment plant which turns sewage into valuable resources. The grant is the largest to be awarded from the Waste Minimisation Fund, announced Environment Minister Amy Adams.

The innovative plant will use advanced technology, TERAX™ that converts sewage sludge into energy and useful products. The plant will be built to commercial scale as a demonstration model at Rotorua’s wastewater treatment facility.

“This world first technology will have a major impact on how New Zealand cities and primary industries deal with organic waste in the future,” says Mayor Kevin Winters. “It will reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill and the toxins it creates, and reduce the costs associated with that.

“On top of this, it will be a source of income by generating industrial chemicals that can be used for fertilisers and other biomaterials. In our case, the products produced by TERAX™ will be consumed inside the wastewater treatment plant to reduce our chemical purchases. It’s win-win for the council and the environment.”

TERAX™ was developed by Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute Scion and successfully trialled at the council’s wastewater facility. The technology involves two processes. The first ferments the sludge to reduce its volume, the second uses high pressure, temperature and oxygen to break down solids and release energy and valuable chemicals. 

The technology is capable of reducing the volume of landfill by 90 percent and greenhouse gases by up to 70 percent. If adopted by councils nationwide, it is estimated two million tonnes of biodegradable waste could be treated annually.

Developed by Scion as a means of solving sewage waste, further research is being carried out on how TERAX™  technology can be applied to other industrial organic waste streams.

“The TERAX™ technology was originally developed as a New Zealand solution to a New Zealand problem,” says Scion Chief Executive Warren Parker. “This commercial-scale demonstration plant in Rotorua will now put TERAX™ in the spotlight, nationwide and internationally.”

The TERAX™ technology has already attracted the attention of many New Zealand regional authorities, and will be made available to other councils on preferred terms.

Construction of the demonstration plant is due to start in 2014.

Page reviewed: 16 Feb 2013 10:00am