Environmental Regulations A Are Formulated Mostly At The Federal Leve Human Waste As an Alternative Energy Source

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Human Waste As an Alternative Energy Source

With all the news buzz today around renewable energy like solar and wind power, even harnessing the energy of ocean waves, an often overlooked source of energy is right under our noses, so to speak: human waste. It may not be as attractive or fun as the alternatives, but generating energy from human waste may be the most important. With the demand for energy and resources, the world’s population is increasing every day and resources are becoming scarce and coveted. A possible source of increasing proportion of the population is our own waste. Feces and urine are abundant and readily available wherever there are people. Currently, large amounts of energy generated from burning fossil fuels and (often potable) water are used to process these waste products. New projects in composting toilets, biogas harvesting, biofuel production and microbial fuel cells may allow us to reverse the cycle and take advantage of this untapped resource.

Although skeptics believe that composting toilets will never succeed in the Western world, new and old technologies are being used to solve two problems: how to treat our waste, and how to produce enough food without poisoning ourselves and our environment with expensive chemicals. stools. The next generation of composting toilets by Clevus Multrum is solving these problems and making the system more attractive to consumers. The low-flow composting toilets they produce have a basement-level compost bin and service is included with the product. The NGO Estamos in Africa is using a very low-tech version of the composting toilet. Although the organization aims to improve sanitation and reduce disease, their programs are also helping smallholder farmers make a living. The organization provides composting toilets free of charge, and has greatly improved the living standards of many poor families. The organization’s director, Feliciano dos Santos, recently won the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize in Ecological Sanitation for this work.

Many countries have well-established methane-capture programs that use animal waste, such as pig farms in Australia and cattle farms in the United States. But what is the ability to create gas from human waste? Developing countries are pioneering this technology as a way to save money and create renewable energy. With support from the Heifer International Foundation, rural farmers in Uganda’s Mukono district are mixing human feces and urine with other organic waste, such as water hyacinth and banana peels, to create biogas, and using the byproduct to fertilize their fields. The biogas produced contains 60-90% methane, and is being used in lighting, cooking and some engines, and many residents are rising above poverty levels while improving their quality of life. Similarly, Rwanda’s Sangugu prison is producing biogas from the excrement of its prisoners. The Kigali Institute of Science and Technology built a digester for the prison, which is using the resulting product to cook 50% of the prisoners’ meals, saving $22,000 a year – a huge amount in Rwanda. But developing countries are not the only ones taking advantage of man-made biogas. The Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant in Vancouver, British Columbia, once the subject of a lawsuit over violations of federal pollution laws, has run a $1.1 million project to harvest methane from city sewage and feed it directly into the natural gas distribution system. The project, expected to be operational in 2009, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 500 tons annually and generate enough energy to power 100 homes. A similar project is underway in San Antonio, Texas.

Current debates surrounding plant-based biofuels focus on competition between food crops and biofuel crops, and many experts are concerned that high demand for biofuels will exacerbate the current food shortage problem. Several projects have addressed this problem by creating biofuels from algae grown on human waste. One of these is Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation, which harvests algae used in sewage treatment ponds in Marlborough, New Zealand. The “green crude” they create from algae can be used for all crude-oil applications such as gasoline, diesel and plastics. In a more direct process, a Canadian company called Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation is using a “fast pyrolysis process” to feed human waste directly into a biofuel production system. The system achieves 80% efficiency by recovering waste gases and heat from the process, and the end product, BioOil®, can be used as an alternative to various petroleum products. One of the most high-tech, cutting-edge technologies for generating energy from human waste is the development of microbial fuel cells. Penn State Engineering Department Dr. The system, developed by Bruce Logan, has been suggested as a way to take waste treatment plants off the grid. The fuel cell, still being refined to produce acceptable energy output, uses wastewater to generate hydrogen fuel, and clean water is produced as a by-product. While the technology is not practical for other fuel-cell applications such as hydrogen-powered cars, it could be used wherever there is a large supply of organic waste.

Many people start thinking about energy systems based on human waste, and don’t think about what happens in the pipeline, but as humanity’s demand for energy increases, we need to embrace unconventional methods of producing it. With the increasing success of the mentioned projects, there is potential to eliminate human waste pollution worldwide. One day our sewage will be called “brown gold”, and may be worth more than crude oil.

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