Human waste hailed as new biofuel
Fri, 20 Nov 2009 5:53p.m.
By Jeff Hampton
The answer to New Zealand's energy problem could lie in your toilet.
The world's biggest project converting toilet wastewater to bio oil was officially opened today at Christchurch’s sewage ponds, with an engineer predicting it's only a matter of time before service stations sell the biofuel.
Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee today demonstrated how to cut grass with a mower which runs off what was once toilet water.
NIWA scientist Dr Rupert Craggs says the project is causing a real stir for scientists.
“This is the biggest system in the world, it's great to get the opportunity to try these ponds out,” he says.
Basically, the ponds grow algae with the help of sunshine and carbon dioxide, the algae's gathered when the waste water goes through a harvester.
“From that the bio crude can essentially go to the refinery just like any other crude oil,” says Dr Craggs.
The algae refinery is just over the road from the pond, and the brainchild of engineer Chris Bathurst.
“It's pumped under great pressure through some reaction tubes where it's subjected to temperature and converts into oil,” says Mr Bathhurst, of Solray Energy Ltd.
The resulting oil sludge can be converted into proper oil, petrol, diesel, kerosene or even bitumen.
Dr Bathurst says the process has been around since the dawn of time.
“We're doing exactly what nature did 60 million years ago,” he says.
The carbon dioxide pumped into the ponds to grow algae can also be used for carbon credits.
The system is small-scale, especially when you consider New Zealand uses 183,000 barrels of oil a day.
Christchurch has 283 hectares of sewerage pond but if all of them were used to produce bio oil, they would provide just 15 percent of the city's needs.
Dr Craggs says the energy system’s promoters are thinking big.
“It could be used by small and medium sized communities, treating the waste water locally and providing a local source of fuel for that community,” he says.
With oil shortages predicted, scientists and engineers involved in the project are confident the answer lies in recycling what leaves your bathroom.
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24/11/2009 11:05:01 a.m.
G Law wrote:
Yes well - the Rosedale treatment plant (Auckland North Shore) and Bromley have all recently changed the operating regime of their ponds by reducing the load on them. The Manukau treatment plant has abandoned ponds altogether. The reduction of the biological load at all three is now done not using algae. The algae production capacity left in the remaining ponds is much reduced. Why did they do this? Several reasons - the ponds are very hard to control - the raw materials including industrial effluent is too variable, and the algae are prone to fungal attack and outbreaks of grazing by other organisms. Overproduce and you can get toxic blooms and certainly algal die off. The consequence is occasional periods of foul odour from the ponds. Throw in that you can get midge outbreaks and that ponds do not produce sufficient reduction in nitrogen in their effluent.Anyone who has had anything to do with sewage treatment by oxidation ponds would treat the claims now being made very sceptically.
20/11/2009 11:05:41 p.m.
Renee Lee0007 wrote:
This is a brilliant example of kiwi innovation and collaboration which highlights the potential of our green industry. We are lucky to have this level of talent here in Aotearoa. Respect.
20/11/2009 7:20:22 p.m.
Maybe all this hype about global warming is about to be busted wide open.... A lying scientist (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/6425269/The-real-climate-change-catastrophe.html) Mr Phil Jones has had his emails hacked and has been caught with his pants down, references to changing temperature data so that IPCC reports look catastrophic!.
more soon! (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/19/breaking-news-story-hadley-cru-has-apparently-been-hacked-hundreds-of-files-released/)
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