InfoSpi has become the latest in a growing list of companies that are transforming sewage treatment plants into gigantic energy recovery facilities. The company has entered an agreement with IBS (Integral Bioenergies Systems) to build a demonstration plant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that will convert sewage sludge to biofuel.
The beauty of the sewage-to-biofuel movement is the virtually endless supply of locally sourced feedstock that is readily at hand (so to speak). It’s a stark contrast to destructive the logistics of mountaintop coal mining. With New York City alone producing about a billion gallons of sewage every day, you’re looking at a nation awash in sustainable energy that can be harvested without blowing up huge chunks of our natural heritage.
The main driver behind the project is biofuel, but InfoSpi has more than biofuel on its mind. According to the company’s press release, the 50 ton-a-month demonstration plant will reclaim water that is clean enough to be treated and reused. Recycling wastewater can be a big advantage to localities where potable water is in short supply, especially compared to the current practice which is simply to discharge treated wastewater into the nearest river or other waterway (which may then be drawn in by other water supply systems downstream, but that’s another story).
More about Sewage-to-Biofuel
InfoSpi’s demonstration plant will use a process that converts the organic matter in sewage to a crude biofuel that could be used for power generation. The process produces no sludge, which is the solid matter left over from conventional sewage treatment. That’s another big advantage, because processing sludge is expensive and energy-consuming. Typically sludge is landfilled, though sludge that is low in industrial contaminants can be further processed and used as a natural soil enhancer.
The Sewage Energy Gold Rush is On
The sewage gold rush has attracted a range of companies from start-ups like InfoSpi to industry giants like Waste Management. Aside from the inexhaustable feedstock, another major attraction has got to be the fact that much of the infrastructure is already in place, in the form of sewer systems and treatment plants, so conversion facilities can be constructed as add-ons rather than tearing up virgin land.
Image: Water by RntVnDrL$t on flickr.com.