A new Illinois water pollution control plant will feature technology developed by a professor and chairman of the University of Utah's civil engineering department.

The process for producing energy and chemicals from industrial and municipal waste was developed by Sam Ghosh and is headed for commercial development by officials in Du Page County, Ill., which includes portions of populous Chicago.The plant is the first municipal water pollution control facility to use the two-stage anaerobic digestion process.

Ghosh secured three U.S. patents in 1977, 1982 and 1987 on the process. He also holds six other patents on municipal waste treatment technology. The digestion process is reported to eliminate pollution while rapidly and efficiently producing gaseous fuels and electrical energy.

Ghosh has been the principal investigator in a $1 million pilot plant waste-conversion research project funded by the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources and Du Page County. The process earned Ghosh the 1986 Utah Governor's Award in Energy Innovation and the 1985 Illinois Energy Award.

Illinois officials say the technique promises to provide improved energy recovery through waste conversion at reduced capital, operating and maintenance costs. They believe most water pollution control plants in the United States could benefit from Ghosh's technology.

Illinois Gov. James Thompson said the project demonstrates how inventions and ideas originating in universities can be developed with federal, state and local support.

Municipal water pollution control plants use anaerobic fermentation to convert organic sludge to methane, a natural gas component, and a stable, solid residue used as a medium-grade ammonia-containing fertilizer.