Faeces, Waste or Fuel?

Commenting on the Validity of Using the Most Abundant Natural Waste Product in the World as a Viable and Sustainable Fuel

Ever since the dawn of motorised transportation and electricity in our homes, man has wondered if there could be a more renewable manner of running these fossil fuel dependent machines. As time moved on, the necessity for alternate power sources increased and with it came many possibilities thought up by many geniuses globally. The issue with these alternates is that they’re incredibly expensive to run, take a toll on the earth to build and governments simply refuse to invest in this when a cheaper alternative exists. The planet is in dire need of a more sustainable, cheaper, and less destructive power source. Without one global solution in the next twenty years, the human race may have to look to other planets in order to survive.

‘If we are to meet the growing electricity demand in the United States without significantly increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, we must maintain a diverse supply of electricity’ —Judy Biggert, American Politician

To add to these various supplies, the use of human excrement as a source of fuel for vehicles has taken off in Colorado and has been very successful thus far. The regional government has invested in extracting the natural gas that is released in sewage treatment plants and adapting it for use in the internal combustion engine. From the city’s waste, they extract ‘biogas’ —a mixture of gases released by decomposers through anaerobic respiration that predominantly consists of methane and they use it to power the city of Grand Junction’s convoy of 40 government vehicles. The station that produces this fuel costs approximately $2.8 million to build and it’s expected to pay for itself in seven years.

The use of ‘biogas’ in the US is not a new venture, as it has been used in order to power generators and heat homes, however it is only used in transportation in Grand Junction, and is a project that has only begun in the last couple of years. On the site in Grand Junction, they produce the equivalent to 460 gallons of petrol daily.

This in turn reduces the carbon emissions of the area by approximately 1.3 million tons, which is equivalent to the amount that 1.3 million trees can absorb in 40 years! These plants are relatively small, yet they pack a big punch when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, being 4000 times more efficient at reducing the mean regional output of CO2 when at maximum capacity (efficiency is halved in colder environments, but is still a worthwhile venture, if above an average annual temperature of 10 celcius) than ten acres of nature’s own solution to this issue-forests.

Due to the success of this project and its very few flaws, it has received international recognition with cities and nations across the globe, from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to Russia, are considering installing similar plants and systems. Overall, these plants could reduce carbon emissions of a city by up to 50%, strongly assisting towards the reduction of the impact of global warming. With popular support, and the implementation of a few upsized plants in every major city across the globe, or simply modifying existing sewage treatment plants, we could go from reducing a city’s carbon output by 50% to reducing global output by the same value or more!

This project needs more recognition, it has the potential to preserve human civilisation as we know it for generations to come and save the planet from countless geographical disasters. In a few years and with more proven successes on the horizon, we could see, with the correct endorsements into further research and implementation by political parties and famous figures alike, a civilisation powered by the one waste product as old as humans themselves!

Thomas Ralph
Thomas Ralph

I am a Sixth form student in the East of England. I will write about anything from politics to physics, from reviewing games to books. I do hope you enjoy my articles, any gifts would be greatly appreciated in helping me through my studies!

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Faeces, Waste or Fuel?