The good people of the city of San Antonio, Texas produce 140,000 tons of sewage—or “biosolids,” as the sewage industry so delicately puts it—on an annual basis. What to do with all that...stuff? San Antonio has a good idea: Make fuel out of it. San Antonio has contracted with Massachusetts energy company Ameresco to use all those biosolids to create natural gas. San Antonio and Ameresco will use some of it to power its sewage systems, and the surplus will be sold for a profit.
How much natural gas can come out of San Antonio's sewers?
“Treating these biosolids generates an average of 1.5 million cubic feet of gas a day,” San Antonio Water System chief operating officer Steve Clouse said. “That's enough gas to fill seven commercial blimps or 1,250 tanker trucks each day.”
“We have for many years wanted to find a beneficial use for these waste gases,” Clouse said. “Most of that gas is currently burned off using flares.”
San Antonio apparently already recycles the water from its sewage from irrigation and the biosolids as fertilizers for local farms, so this is just another step in reclaiming everything reclaimable from what San Antonians flush down their pipes on a daily basis. And while it’s requiring every single ounce of my will not to make various fart and crap jokes, I think this is a fine idea. Energy is energy, wherever it comes from, and burning off all that natural gas rather than putting it to profitable use (in more one sense of the term) is silly and wasteful. It would be nice if other municipalities picked up on this idea as well. There’s a lot of “biosolids” and sewage out there. Might as well get something useful out of it. Wasting energy is a crappy thing to do.
Sorry, I couldn't help it. Please don't hit me.
(Image nicked from here and used under Creative Commons license.)