From Poop To Power: The Untapped Potential Of Human Waste
Generating our energy from human waste may sound disgusting and strange, but perhaps it’s not as crazy as it sounds – this isn’t just a theoretical idea we’re talking about here…it’s already been implemented many places in Europe (as evidenced by the bus in the featured image), and it now looks to be coming across the ocean to the U.S. of A.
So, how and why would people do this? Well, processing sewage already produces a lot of methane, which is often simply burnt of into the air by waste-water treatment plants in the U.S. While this has been the status quo for a long time, many would consider this bad for the environment and a complete waste of a natural resource.
In the NPR radio segment, it is claimed that implementing these gas-havesting procedures across the country would give us enough resources to replace half of the diesel fuel use for transportation in the U.S. It’s obviously not a solution to all of humanity’s energy woes, but perhaps energy solutions have to be assembled piece by piece.
So, what do you think? Read the details after the break, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
The wastewater treatment plant in Grand Junction, Colo., takes in 8 million gallons of raw sewage — what’s flushed down the toilet and sinks.
Processing this sewage produces a lot of methane, which the plant used to just burn off into the air.
The process was “not good for the environment and a waste of a wonderful resource,” says Dan Tonello, manager of the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Now, using more infrastructure, the facility refines the methane further to produce natural gas chemically identical to what’s drilled from underground.
Grand Junction has been replacing an aging fleet of garbage trucks and buses with natural gas vehicles, fueled mostly by the human-sourced gas from the treatment plant.
Tonello says Grand Junction is the first city in the nation to do that.
“We’re looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars a year being saved by implementing this process,” he says.
Europe has been extracting natural gas from organic waste for about a decade, and now it’s starting to pick up in the U.S.
Joanna Underwood, president of Energy Vision, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding the use of this renewable natural gas, or RNG, says Grand Junction is a model for small wastewater treatment plants around the country.