About the Project

Blue River Wastewater Treatment Plant

KC Water’s Blue River Wastewater Treatment Plant is undergoing a makeover. Once reconstructed, the facility will be renamed the Blue River Biosolids Facility. It will be the first plant of its kind in the Midwest to employ a Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP) to recycle human and domestic waste into useful energy sources.

The Blue River Wastewater Treatment Plant, located at 7300 Hawthorne near I-435 and Front Street, is Kansas City’s largest wastewater treatment plant.

On an average day, the facility treats close to 75 million gallons of wastewater. Approximately 98 percent of the solid material in Kansas City’s wastewater is processed and cleaned at the Blue River Plant.

Project Plans

The current Blue River Wastewater Treatment Plant opened as a primary treatment facility in the early 1960’s and underwent an upgrade in 1987. Since that time, new processes and technologies have been added to provide advanced wastewater treatment.

The plant currently utilizes aging and increasingly unreliable infrastructure to dispose of solid material, called sludge, collected from domestic wastewater. The existing system receives sludge from three other wastewater treatment plants in Kansas City that is then processed and burned in incinerators before it is disposed of in landfills.

Because upgrades are necessary at this time, KC Water has carefully studied the current system and available replacement options and has determined that the best investment for Kansas City will be a Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP).

KC Water will do away with the aging incinerators that would cost $60 million to replace, and instead install a two-step pressure cooker process that prepares sludge for efficient anaerobic digestion. The anaerobic digestion step stabilizes the sludge and allows it to be processed into useful useful biogas to be that may be used to produce electrical power, heating, or feed into the natural gas pipelines.

How does the Thermal Hydrolysis Process Work?

  1. Solids are pressure-cooked at 329°F to break down the material, and then released to atmospheric break to break down the material.
  2. The treated solids are mixed with bacteria in a process known as anaerobic digestion.
  3. The result is two clean, usable products – biogas (electrical energy) and biosolids (fertilizer).

Why use the Thermal Hydrolysis Process?

Class A Product. The THP process will recycle domestic waste into a usable, Class A product, rich nitrogen, that may be safely applied in farms and gardens.

Efficiency and Speed. It gets the job done in less time and decreases the amount of storage required.

Increased Sustainability. This process protects the environment, public health and helps increase the community’s quality of life.

The THP system will optimize the use of existing infrastructure, such as digester tanks, while modifying the plant so it can cost-effectively meet the future biosolids treatment needs of the City.