Brooklyn has found a way to turn farts into fuel, and now Orlando, Florida is following suit. Partnering with several private industry partners, Orlando city officials think they have mastered the conversion from “poop to power in five minutes.” An $8.5 million project has taken place over the last five years, which has refined sewage cleanly – and turned it into much-needed fuel.
One of the companies, SuperWater Solutions claims that the process will revolutionize the processing of wastewater with an entirely green footprint. Currently, wastewater is treated with bacteria or algae. The bacteria eats up most of the bad waste, and yields water that is clean enough to release back into the environment. Unfortunately there is another by-product…sludge. Sludge can be used as a fertilizer, and spread over dry ground. The only problem is, sludge can’t be spread over wet ground, and not everyone is happy to receive tons of sludge for their property.
The process that Orlando has been cooking up takes the left over sludge, grinds it up, and puts it under extremely high pressure. After being fed into a reactor with pure oxygen, it gets heated to 700 degrees Fahrenheit and melts into a part liquid part gas mixture called “supercritical water,” which essentially destroys everything within itself.
What’s left are 3 elements- inorganic salts, purified water, and liquid carbon dioxide, which Orlando officials see as a gold mine. Beverage companies can pay up for the carbon dioxide and the salts can be sold to fertilizer companies. Aside from elements, the process also yields heat – also known as energy! This energy is as viable as coal, and can be used to power electrical turbines. Since Orlando treats about 35 tons of sewage a day, that’s a lot of energy – enough to power about 1,183 homes! The reactor used to refine the sludge uses about half the electricity that is yielded from the by-products.
The process, which will be introduced commercially by SuperWater Solutions, will also benefit the pioneer city of Orlando, with a deal of $2.50 in royalties per ton of sludge treated. If SuperWater Solutions corners this market, this could mean $60 million over the course of 20 years for Orlando. Now that’s a lot of poop!
Via Palm Beach Post
Images © Wikimedia Commons