Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Biofuels

U.S. Flushes 12.5 Trillion Gallons of Energy Down the Drain Every Year

wastewater could become major source of renewable biofuelsResearchers from Newcastle University in the U.K. have done the math, and on the surface it looks pretty grim. Every year, the U.S. flushes about 12.5 trillion gallons of energy right down the drain. They’re actually talking about potential energy, in the form of biofuels that could be recovered from wastewater.  That alone could form a big part of the renewable energy picture, but wait there’s more – much, much more.

Renewable Biogas from Sewage

Regular readers of Cleantechnica are probably used to us raving about the energy potential in wastewater (yeah, sewage). Sewage-to-methane biogas equipment is becoming commonplace at treatment plants, where it is usually used to run equipment at the site. The City of San Antonio recently bumped it up a notch by selling its sewage biogas into a commercial pipeline, and we should also note that agricultural biogas is becoming a big deal, too. The U.K. researchers estimate that a gallon of wastewater contains enough energy potential to run a 100-watt light bulb for five minutes, which doesn’t sound like all that much until you multiply that by 12.5 trillion.

More Good Stuff from Sewage

In addition to biogas, sewage can yield a plethora of renewable benefits. Depending on the presence of contaminants, it can be dewatered and used as a natural soil amendment. Researchers are also looking into refining biofuel from the “trap grease” in sewage, and even making renewable bioplastics from sewage. To ice the cake, the typical treatment plant is a sprawling facility often located in a relatively remote area, providing the potential for wind turbines and solar power installations – and let’s not forget the potential for kinetic hydropower, too.

Who’s Afraid of $4 Per Gallon Gas?

Sewage-to-biogas isn’t the answer to all of our nation’s energy woes, but exploiting the energy potential of wastewater is going to play a big role in a diverse, renewable energy picture – and it’s locally sourced, too. We’re dealing with yet another price spike at the gas pump right now, but the time is fast approaching when the U.S. economy will no longer march in lockstep with global market trends for a single type of energy.

Image: Green bucket by Dwstucke on flickr.com.

 
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
 

Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

Comments

You May Also Like

Consumer Technology

The folks over at Poppits had it with the wasteful use of plastics and took it upon themselves to build the solution. They took...

Green Economy

In another bad sign for fossil energy stakeholders, the apparel industry supply chain is focusing more attention on recycling pre-consumer and post-consumer petrochemicals.

Green Economy

Protein Evolution says it has developed a process that breaks down plastic waste so it can be used to make new products.

Consumer Technology

Bridgestone, one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world, is planning to help reduce the carbon footprint of its commercial vehicle line of...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.