OSTARA: Full Recovery

OSTARA Robert Kennedy VantagePoint Venture Partners

The City of York and Ostara Nu­trient Recovery Technologies Inc. have opened a new Nutrient Recovery Facility at the York Waste­water Treatment Plant (WWTP). This unveiling marks the opening of the second facility in the nutrient-sensitive Chesapeake Bay watershed. Ostara’s technology, called the Pearl Nutrient Recovery Process, recovers phosphorus and ammonia from wastewater streams and transforms them into an environmentally-friendly, slow-release fertilizer marketed and sold by the company as Crystal Green.

This technology will help the York WWTP cost-effectively meet its nutrient limits and help protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed by providing an environmentally-sensitive solution to effectively remove excess nutrients, while producing a fertilizer that releases slowly and eliminates run-off.

Ostara board member, environmental advocate and attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a partner in VantagePoint Venture Partners, notes, “Ostara’s technology serves an important role in protecting our natural waterways for future generations. It provides a cost-effective solution that benefits the environment at all stages, and truly exhibits the shift that we are seeing towards closed-loop, sustainable technologies.”

A Win-Win Partnership

The launch of the Ostara Nutrient Recovery Facility at the City of York WWTP marks a unique public/private partnership where Ostara has designed, built and financed the nutrient recovery facility. The City of York has agreed to pay a monthly fee for treatment capacity provided by the Ostara system, which is less than what was previously required to deal with costly maintenance resulting from the damaging build-up of struvite scale in pipes and valves. This will help the York WWTP meet its nutrient limits, reduce operational costs and optimize the plant’s efficiency. The City of York will also receive revenue for the production and sale of Crystal Green, effectively transforming the problem of excess nutrients into a valuable product.

“This public-private partnership between Ostara and the City of York is a creative approach to helping wastewater treatment facilities deal with the operational and environmental implications associated with the challenges of an overabundance of nutrients,” says Phillip Abrary, Ostara’s president/CEO. “Ostara provides a solution that is no-risk to the City from a financial or technical perspective. We are very excited to partner with the City of York on this model project.”

From Pilot To Commercial Facility

The York WWTP and Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc. successfully completed a demonstration project in April 2008. Ostara’s Pearl Nutrient Recovery Process reduced the nutrient load in the liquid wastewater stream, reducing the phosphorus concentration by 93% and ammonia by 15%. Based on the results of this pilot project, the City of York and Ostara agreed upon its unique service fee agreement.

According to York WWTP General Manager Steve Douglas: “The process that Ostara is using is an extremely innovative technology that will help us more cost-effectively remove unwanted nutrients in our liquid wastewater stream. The benefit is that Ostara’s technology not only removes these nutrients, but recovers them into a valuable product. Our partnership with Ostara is also unique, and one that will hopefully serve as a model for public/private ventures.”

The York WWTP is Ostara’s third commercial facility; the others are located in Tigard, OR, and Suffolk, VA.

The York WWTP provides wastewater services for more than 125,000 residents in municipalities including York City, Spring Garden Township, North York Borough, West York Borough, West Manchester Township, Manchester Township and York Township. The York WWTP has a design flow of 26 million gallons per day and employs biological nutrient removal to meet the strict discharge limits required in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

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