Fuel from sewage is the future — and it’s closer than you think
It may sound like science fiction, but wastewater treatment plants across the United States may one day turn ordinary sewage into biocrude oil, thanks to new research at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The technology, hydrothermal liquefaction, mimics the geological conditions Earth uses to create crude oil, using high pressure and temperature to achieve in minutes something that takes Mother Nature millions of years. The resulting material is similar to petroleum pumped out of the ground, with a small amount of water and oxygen mixed in. This biocrude can then be refined using conventional petroleum refining operations.
Wastewater treatment plants across the U.S. treat approximately 34 billion gallons of sewage every day. That amount could produce the equivalent of up to approximately 30 million barrels of oil per year. PNNL estimates that a single person could generate two to three gallons of biocrude per year.
Sewage, or more specifically sewage sludge, has long been viewed as a poor ingredient for producing biofuel because it’s too wet. The approach being studied by PNNL eliminates the need for drying required in a majority of current thermal technologies which historically has made wastewater to fuel conversion too energy intensive and expensive. HTL may also be used to make fuel from other types of wet organic feedstock, such as agricultural waste.
Read Full Story: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161102134504.htm