Thursday, January 20, 2011

Waste Not Want Not: Study Discovers New Potential For Household Sewage

A recent scientific study discovers that household waste has far more potential than previously thought as an alternative energy source. In the new study, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials, Newcastle University, and Northumbrian Water Limited, Elizabeth S. Heidrich and her colleagues froze dried wastewater to conserve energy-rich compounds, and found that the wastewater they collected from a water treatment plant in Northeast England contained almost 20% more energy than previously calculated.

Heidrich noted that, the sewage plants in USA use about 1.5% of the nation's electrical energy to treat 12.5 trillion gallons of wastewater per year. Instead of dumping this water, they suggested that in the future the plants could convert the organic molecules found in the processed wastewater into methane, hydrogen and othe fuels. They estimated that 1 gallon of wastewater contains enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for 5 minutes. The scientific study proposes a new method to ensure environmental sustainability by transforming the process of energy drain to the building of an alternative energy source.

-Nisha Noor