Dirty Energy & Fuel a-composting-toilet

Published on September 11th, 2008 | by Levi Novey

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The First City in the U.S. to Make Natural Gas from Our Poop

September 11th, 2008 by

A composting toiletSan Antonio, Texas will be the first city in the United States to produce natural gas from the methane that comes from the poop of its residents on a large, profitable scale. Our excrement is being more technically referred to as “biosolids” by the companies and agencies involved in the project. And the project is by no means a joke.

San Antonio signed a deal with a Massachusetts company that will make the city’s waste into natural gas. According to the principal operator of the city’s water system, Steve Clouse, “the private vendor will come onto the facility, construct some gas cleaning systems, remove the moisture, remove the carbon dioxide content, and then sell that gas on the open market.” The gas will then be sold to companies who can use it in power plants and fuel furnaces.

The most impressive thing of all about this decision is that more than 90% of the city’s toilet and sink water will be recycled. Some of San Antonio’s waste water is already used for irrigation. Some of the solids are used for compost.

The company that will make the plan a reality is called Ameresco, who’s website uses the slogan: “Connect to smarter energy solutions.” The company won a prestigious award from the government of Massachusetts earlier this year for a project that saves Bridgewater State College $1 million annually in energy costs. The project involved upgrades to numerous college facilities as well as the college’s air conditioning system. It also utilizes a water conservation initiative.

Read More about Natural Gas on the Green Options Network:

Photo Credit: redjar on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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About the Author

Levi Novey is a conservation professional who has received a bachelor's degree in History from Tufts University and a master's degree in Conservation Social Sciences from the University of Idaho. He worked for the U.S. National Park Service for 10 years, as a park ranger in 6 national parks, as a social science researcher in 5 parks, and as the science communicator for a Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring Network that serves 9 parks. He has authored several scholarly papers as well as several guidebooks to U.S. national parks. Levi also has taught an undergraduate Environmental Communication Skills course at the University of Idaho, won several photography contests, and regularly enjoys visits to parks, protected areas, historical sites, museums-- and just about anywhere where he can learn something new about the world. He currently lives in Peru, with his wife Alicia, and their daughter Coral.



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  • J. M. Quinn

    It should be cheaper, they won´t have to add an odor.

  • Eddy

    Oh Dear, this is called a break thru ?
    Here in Ozz, we’ve manufactured OIL from Poop, and used methane to run generator turbines for years.
    Like people have said here, the technology has been around for years, all you gotta do is take the blinkers off.

    Now regards the plant being in Texas, I guess i could be excused if I made a pun on the SIZE of Texas and Texans and maybe this is what makes it more economical, like Texans poop more ? :-)

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  • Nelson

    This story stinks. The journalist might try a tiny amount of research before publishing such drivel. Or is this an example of Texan exaggeration? Albuquerque, New Mexico has been collecting and using waste methane for years.

  • Derrick

    This is certainly an idea that doesn’t stink.

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  • san antonio dude

    That’s a lot of tacos…

  • Troy

    Here, I would like to be paid for my Sh** finally!!! I have a family of 8…now that’s a whole truck load of Sh**. Let the cheques start rolling in…

  • Troy

    Here, I would like to be paid for my Sh** finally!!! I have a family of 8…now that’s a whole truck load of Sh**. Let the cheqes start rolling in…

  • Troy

    Here, I would like to be paid for my Sh** finally!!! I have a family of 8…now that’s a whole truck load of Sh**. Let the checks start rolling in…

  • Jiffy Lotts

    LOL, I always knew poop would come in handy! LOL

    Jiff
    http://www.privacy.mx.tc

  • http://www.misterinfo.de/users/erichansa erichansa

    this is incredibly stupid. i work in the wastewater business and i work at a LOT of plants in NYC who extract the methane and run the boilers and even produce the plant’s own electrical power with the shit that flows in.
    hell one of them has been doing it for 40+ years

  • http://castlesteps.com Kyle

    This is one of the best ideas that I’ve heard in a long time. If we can perfect this technology, then this will go a long way to helping solve energy problems.

  • http://kholvad.com Kholvad

    Third world countrys have had and used this technology for years. In my home village in India it was the only source of electricity in the 60′s and 70′s. The only diff was that cow dung was used (which was available in abudance)
    http://www.mothercow.org/oxen/gober-methane-gas.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biogas

  • http://mikejones.com Mike Jones

    How long did that take you, Derrick?

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