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Uploaded with Comments by kirstendirksen
April 24, 2009

The methane by-product from the sewage of 650,000 Seattle area residents is powering a one and a half megawatt fuel cell plant.

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Alexandra Bruce
June 20, 2011

Why are we fracking for natural gas – which is methane – when we could be setting up biogas plants right alongside our sewage treatment facilities to produce the *same thing* and solve an enormous waste management problem, at the same time?

Who needs nuclear fuel rods to heat up water and spin turbines – and the specter of more Fukushimas – when we all create this cheap, abundant and sustainable source of energy. To not make use of this vast resource is – utterly wasteful!

Seriously, this Seattle, Washington operation is very impressive and it has also recently been put into use in the UK.

As described by the BBC:

“In some parts of the UK anaerobic digesters are already being used to generate electricity from human refuse, but this summer British Gas in a partnership with Thames Water and Scotia Gas Networks will start piping biomethane from the sewage system – which is derived from fecal matter – right back into the homes of 130 customers in Didcot in Oxfordshire. The new gas will take 23 days to complete its waste treatment cycle and when it enters homes will smell just like natural gas.

Using human waste for power is not a new idea. Marco Polo noticed that the Chinese used enclosed sewage tanks to generate power and bath water was said to be heated with biogas in Assyria in the 10th century BC. With populations on the rise and the issue of what to do with sewage becoming an ever present problem, why not bring it back around to electrify our houses? It’s completely renewable – as long as we keep eating – and could be a big part of the “no-waste holy grail.”

Alexandra Bruce

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