PHOENIXVILLE, PA — The Borough of Phoenixville recently revealed its plan to install the first hydrothermal carbonization plant at a municipal wastewater treatment plant in all of North America.
The new technology is faster, safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly than the current process of anaerobic digestion and also has the potential to yield beneficial byproducts including bio-coal, construction sand, synthetic gas, and improved fertilizers. Hydrothermal carbonization, or HTC, has the power to offset the carbon use of every driver residing in Phoenixville. Every community treats wastewater in some fashion but Phoenixville will be the first municipality to install a state-of-the-art resource recovery system. Phoenixville will partner with SoMax BioEnergy (www.somaxhtc.com), Spring City, Pennsylvania, to modernize the Borough’s current wastewater treatment facilities.
While the benefits of HTC are plain, hydrothermal carbonization is a mouthful. The average citizen might be able to break the words down to ascertain something about the process but the Borough felt that the combination of being first with such a revolutionary technology deserved a special stamp. To that end the Borough elected to brand the project—the plant plus the technology—with one simple, memorable name and image.
PXVNEO was selected from a group of contenders presented by a naming and branding consultant to best reflect the marriage of the modern, beneficial technology answering the community’s most enduring—albeit least attractive—need. The punchy abbreviations come together to characterize a unique and powerful solution to a chronic problem that most residents don’t even think about.
The wastewater treatment plant is the largest user of energy and soon will have the ability, not only to create enough energy to power itself but to create energy for the community or to return to the grid. In April 2019, during the HTC feasibility and design stages, it was agreed that a system like that—the very first of its kind in the country—deserved special recognition.
“We believe that this plant could be a model for municipalities all around the country,” said Jon Ewald, president of Phoenixville Borough counsel. “There is the potential for what we’re doing here today to have far-reaching positive implications and we need to be sure the Borough who assumed the risk is credited as much as the technology is.” Anaerobic digestion is the de facto standard in the United States and, until now, HTC was untested. PXVNEO will be the first and that has yielded support at the regional and state level to help fund the project.
Equipment started to arrive this month and construction on the new plant will begin in February. Like a lot of the public utilities and privately held businesses in the Borough, PXVNEO will feature a Phoenix in its logo but this a modern interpretation, a modular representation of the mythical bird that has the power to be reborn.
The PXVNEO brand features shades of blue symbolizing clean water and a nod to the Borough’s adopted streetscape colors. There is the potential to scale the brand, in a modular fashion, to other utilities within the Borough or even re-engineer it for other municipalities who turn to Phoenixville and SoMax for guidance on improving their own wastewater treatment systems. The possibility of regional schools utilizing PXVNEO as a STEM component also exists and the exciting brand makes promotion and communication of a complex process simpler and easier.
“One could say that the entire way we think about wastewater is being re-engineered and we’re all hopeful PXVNEO becomes replicated by other forward-thinking communities willing to make the investment in the future,” concluded Ewald.
For more information and to follow the progress of PXVNEO visit phoenixville.org/pxvneo.
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