The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, operated by Washington, D.C.'s water and sewage authority, DC Water, is attempting to turn to an unusual source to generate renewable energy: human waste.
The plant, which treats over 370 million gallons of wastewater and 1,200 tons of wet excrement per day, plans to process the biomaterials (or biohazards) with a therapy called Norwegian thermal hydrolysis, which optimizes biogas — an admixture of gases, minus oxygen, that breaks down organic materials — that come from biowaste (other examples include manure and plant materials), which then decomposes the material with bacteria to create methane. The expelled methane is then harnessed to generate electricity, with the help of wind turbines. All in all, about 13 megawatts of electricity are produced from the therapy: three of those are outsourced to areas powered by electricity, and the rest are recycled by the plant to help aid in another cycle of thermal hydrolysis.
All in all, the process helps keep operational costs down and minimizes the plant's carbon's emissions.
"It saves us money, avoids us having to buy power off the grid, which largely comes from coal," said George Hawkins, the chief executive for DC Water.
Take a virtual tour of the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in the video clip below.
Via: Digital Trends