Human Waste as an Energy Source

Human waste is a problem for every place humans live and throughout history it has been dealt with in various ways. Instead of treating human waste as a problem that needs to be removed from our towns we may want to think about it as an energy source. That’s right: turn our poo into electricity.

Anaerobic digestion of human waste can be done to convert the waste into gas. The UN University has successfully done this in Uganda and ready to take it elsewhere.

Biogas from human waste, safely obtained under controlled circumstances using innovative technologies, is a potential fuel source great enough in theory to generate electricity for up to 138 million households – the number of households in Indonesia, Brazil, and Ethiopia combined.

A report today from UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health estimates that biogas potentially available from human waste worldwide would have a value of up to US$ 9.5 billion in natural gas equivalent.

And the residue, dried and charred, could produce 2 million tonnes of charcoal-equivalent fuel, curbing the destruction of trees.

Finally, experts say, the large energy value would prove small relative to that of the global health and environmental benefits that would accrue from the proper universal treatment of human waste.

“Rather than treating our waste as a major liability, with proper controls in place we can use it in several circumstances to build innovative and sustained financing for development while protecting health and improving our environment in the process,” according to the report, “Valuing Human Waste as an Energy Resource.”

Check out their work.

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Brewery is Also a Power Plant

Here at Things Are Good we tend to like beer and we’re always happy to see the brewing process become more environmentally friendly. A smart inventor in the USA has found a way to convert a naturally occurring element of the brewing process and converts it into natural gas!

The brewery is Magic Hat and their motto is “Saving the earth, one beer at a time” – I can’t wait to try their beer.

The MIT-trained mechanical engineer has invented a patented device that turns brewery waste into natural gas that’s used to fuel the brewing process.

The anaerobic methane digester, installed last year at Magic Hat Brewing Co. in Vermont, extracts energy from the spent hops, barley and yeast left over from the brewing process — and it processes the plant’s wastewater. That saves the brewer on waste disposal and natural gas purchasing
The 42-foot tall structure, which cost about $4 million to build, sits in the back parking lot of Magic Hat’s brewery, where it came online last summer.

Fitch, 37, is CEO of PurposeEnergy, Inc., of Waltham, Mass., a renewable energy startup company whose lone product is the biphase orbicular bioreactor, which is 50 feet in diameter, holds 490,000 gallons of slurry and produces 200 cubic feet of biogas per minute.

Brewers big and small have wrestled with waste issues since the dawn of beer-making. In recent years, they’ve turned to recycling — both as a cost-saver and for environmental reasons.

Read the rest of the article.

Thanks Greg!

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