Washington D.C.'s sewage is generating 10MW of electricity

It's more conventional than drinking water harvested from human waste, but no less interesting: generating electricity from raw sewage. Researchers have given the subject ample attention over the years and especially lately, with the technology promising a future where waste is put to good use and its effect on the environment is lessened. Washington D.C. is one such place testing the technology.

The testing is being done by DC Water's Blue Plains, a plant that's part of a utility company servicing the District of Columbia. The company is using wastewater — that is, sewage — to generate "green energy," so much that it could power 8,000 or so homes if fed into the grid.

At this point in time, the electricity is being used to power the plant itself, which uses the waste to generate 10 megawatts of electricity. Doing so shaves millions of dollars off the planet's operation costs.Previously, the waste matter would be composted; the energy generation has only been happening for half a year.

Part of the process involves using a hydrolysis technique to convert organic materials into methane. That methane is then used to generate electricity through turbines. The methane production takes place in big 80ft-tall vats able to convert 3.8 million gallons of waste each.

Finally, so-called "biosolids" of organic matter, the remainders of the processed waste, is provided as organic fertilizer for agricultural use.

The technology has many benefits, and organizations are hopeful that the technology could one day make its way into poor regions and developing countries. In such areas, the technology would improve sanitation by processing the waste while at the same time providing green electricity to power homes and businesses and fertilizer for agriculture.

SOURCE: Phys.org