Electrical Energy from Sewage?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

After thinking about sewage backup problems that major cities may face if they are without power for an extended period of time, I did some research on using sewage ( technically known as solid waste ) to generate methane for use as a fuel to produce power. I discovered that some solid waste treatment plants in Australia and Europe do use methane from solid waste to produce electricity, mainly to operate the plants but also to supply the local area with power ( the local power company buys power from the plants ).

The main problem with methane seems to be its cost of production with regard to the current cost of electricity from oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. I suppose my question is, how high would the cost of electricity have to go for methane production to be viable ?

-- Stanley Lucas (StanleyLucas@WebTv.net), October 06, 1999


A little company in Colorado is working on it. In fact, my understanding is that the technology is already in use at some landfills. Checkout Rentech, I think the symbol is RNTKC. Somewhere around 50 cents right now but it could be a blockbuster someday or somewhere over the rainbow.

-- Norm (Prez22@aol.com), October 06, 1999.

Me thane......you thane? We all thane, thumb otherth inthane..... thay....haven't I theen you 'round here before?

-- Jay Urban (Jayho99@aol.com), October 06, 1999.

Mr: Urban--very nithe.

Mr. Lucas:

Interesting question. I haven't heard of a commercial approach to power generation using sewage-generated methane, but I have read that Chinese peasants create useable methane from a domed refuse pit, where human and animal waste is mixed with compost to ferment. The fermentation process creates methane which is piped out for cooking and lighting and the resultant mix makes a much stronger fertilizer for the fields.

I imagine the fermentation chamber would have to be sealed to generate any pressure to move the gas, and running one of these things would be an unpleasant and dangerous task. What a way to go, huh? Like being killed by a huge.....never mind.

Don't know that this information will help anyone short of oh, say, a 14 or 15, but I found it interesting.

Everyone have a nice day. Enjoy the fall weather.

Best regards,

-- William in Dallas (bcheek@onramp.net), October 06, 1999.

Wasn't there a study a couple of years ago in either Australia or New Zealand to measure the amount of methane produced by cow burps? (Just to show that the US isn't the ONLY country that gives grants to things like studies of Peruvian brothels!)

Either way, I think the whole idea stinks.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), October 06, 1999.

I worked for an engineering firm that designed these type of plants here in the US. This technology is not new, and there are several of these plants around. One is being built in California to burn rice refuse, it will cut down on air pollution.

-- ~~~!!~~~ (~~~!!~~~@x.com), October 06, 1999.

[Fair Use: For educational purposes, etc.]

Elephant Accident

PADERBORN, GERMANY - Overzealous zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant Stefan 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of poop.

Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive-oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud. "The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. "With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that happen sometimes - a billion-to-one shot, at least."

The heartbreaking tale of constipation and tragedy began April 23 when the conscientious zookeeper noticed that his prize, 8,000-pound African elephant didn't seem to be producing his usual poop aplenty. "Friedrich had actually been concerned for several days because he knew that severe constipation can kill an elephant," assistant zookeeper Kurt Herrman recalled. "He told me he was going to stay late that Thursday night to treat Stefan with laxatives and possibly give him an enema. I offered to help, but he sent me on home, saying he had everything under control."

But two hours later, horrified night watchman Walter Pleuger found Friedrich lying lifeless under a mound of muck, his body visible only from the knees down. "I had never really thought about it before", Det. Dern said. "But obviously, giving an elephant an enema can be a very dangerous activity and not something that should be attempted alone."

-- PH (urban@pocry.pha), October 06, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ