The system will pay for itself in just five years due to the reduced maintenance costs and the added benefit of selling excess electricity back to the power grid.
Every day, humans collectively generate about 8.47 Empire State Buildings of fecal matter. That’s a lot of poop. Unfortunately, most of what’s generated in developing nations is untreated and ends up being discharged directly into lakes, rivers, and oceans. Because the world has a massive waste problem (and we’re not referring to plastic pollution), the Danish city of Aarhus has adopted technology capable of putting fecal matter to work.
NewScientist reports that Aarhus will become the first city in the world to provide most of its citizens with fresh water using energy created from household wastewater and sewage. The Marselisborg Wastewater Treatment Plant expects to generate more than 192% of the energy needs it requires to run the plant, which supplies approximately 200,000 nearby residents with fresh water.
Any excess electricity generated will be used to power water pumps. And, if any electricity is left, the remaining will be funneled back into the grid and sold for a profit. Says Mads Warming of Danfoss Power Electronics, the company responsible for providing the technology to the municipal water utility:
“We are about to be the first energy neutral catchment area.”
How does it work?
The plant generates energy from the biogas that is created out of household water, including sewage. Once extracted from the wastewater, it is pumped into digesters that maintain a 100.4°F (38°C) temperature. These digesters are filled with bacteria and produce biogas (predominantly methane) that is burned to make heat and electricity. This is the first time a wastewater treatment plant has utilized human sewage as a means of generating electricity to clean water.
It cost $3.19 million to install the sewer-power upgrades at Denmark’s Marselisborg Wastewater Treatment Plant, but Aarhus Water officials believe the investment was worth it. Reportedly, the system will pay for itself in just five years due to the reduced maintenance costs and the added benefit of selling excess electricity back to the power grid. Other cities in Denmark – such as Copenhagen – are actively seeking ways to duplicate the Aarhus system so they, too, can benefit from recycling human waste into energy.
Because humans generate a gargantuan amount of excrement on a daily basis, this technology could – and likely should – be implemented elsewhere. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!
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