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Human and Industrial Waste Converted to Energy

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An Atlanta-based company is betting on a sustainable, unending supply of raw material as feed stock, to create a renewable energy source. Human and industrial wastes will soon be processed into a solid, called “E-Fuel”, a replacement for coal or other fossil fuels.

The company, EnerTech Environmental, says it has received $42 million in funding to continue engineering and completion of a commercial-size plant in Rialto, CA, shown in the picture. Four more plants are in the planning stage as funding for the projects is received. The company says it now has $57 million in venture capital.

Turning watery human and industrial waste into a usable product, according to the firm, poses a unique problem. EnerTech calls it’s technology SlurryCarb, the natural process that turns organic material into fossil fuel. Heat and pressure are used to split off carbon dioxide, removing the water that was trapped in cell walls. Once the water is removed, E-Fuel is the final result.

The City of Los Angeles poured $500 million into a pair of plants some 20 years ago, only to have them pulled, according to the Los Angeles Times. It seems the sludge erupted in flames after corroding valves. EnerTech claims to have the answer to that problem.

The Rialto plant is expected to go into operation this December, converting 683 tons of sewage sludge into E-Fuel every day. Five nearby communities will contribute the raw material.

The article doesn’t say anything about odors that may emanate from the plant during operations. If you’ve every lived downwind of a sewage treatment plant, you get the idea. I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere near this place, would you?

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5 comments
  1. Uncle B

    Finally, an American solution to an American problem. A small village in India does similarly, but they seem to buy the solid wastes, collected by the villagers, make methane and provide electric power for their village. Neat trick if you can do it, and with oil rising to over $150.00 in the next few weeks, we may be trying to sell the same stuff to keep out wheels running!

  2. JuanRCM

    If the process is in any way similar to normal wastewater biosolids processing, there is likely byproduct methane gas that can be used to generate electricity to help power the plant

  3. addy

    Does anybody know about this site ( http://www.earthlab.com ) ? I have seen other environmental sites with carbon calculators like yahoo and tree huggers, but I am wondering what the deal with earthlab.com is? I saw they also published a list last month of the top ten greenest cities ( http://www.efficientenergy.org/Top-Ten-Green-Cities-in-the-United-States ). Does anyone know if this site is better than the others? Fill me in!

    I took their carbon foot print test and it was pretty interesting, they said that I put out 4.5 tons of carbon, does anyone know about any other tests?

  4. Joel

    Leah has a great point. Whilst it’s a never ending supply of fuel (potentially) what energy does it cost to process, besides the “one-off” cost of the plant building etc. However it could be a superb energy source, I wonder if it’s being used elsewhere in the world (besides farmers buring dried cattle droppings of course!).

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