One of the things that I find interesting is how there can be almost 7 billion people on this planet, each one dropping a duke every day, and yet the planet is not completely overrun with feces causing disease and deadly bacteria to overrun the planet. It’s pretty amazing that our local water treatment plants can handle this amount of volume, and send clean water back out into the ecosystem. But the thing I find even more fascinating is that we could be using this waste as a source of energy to generate electricity to power local buildings and even feed the leftovers back into the grid to provide electricity for our communities.
The process used at water treatment plants is to assist nature in doing what she does naturally, and that is attacking the feces with bacteria, these bacteria digest the solid waste and the resulting by product is methane gas. A study published by the Federal Energy Management Program estimates that there are more than 16,000 waste water treatment plants in the United States and that only 2 percent of these plants are using the digester gas to produce electricity. A typical wastewater treatment plant processes about 1 million gallons of wastewater per every 10,000 of population and this can generate up to 35KW of energy.
This seems like a renewable energy source that should not be taken lightly, to me it is surprising that only 2% of the treatment plants in the U.S. take advantage of this technology. Many people find it difficult to expend the effort to recycle, walk, bicycle, or use public transportation, but here is a program that even the most apathetic people can take pride in, finally we can all say we give a crap!