South Korea Aims to Turn Human Waste to Fuel
August 31, 2012 4:50 PM
(Source: Warner Bros Pictures)
We won't ask where the inspiration for this idea came to the research team
is a major issue for the massive metropolitan areas that are increasingly permeating our globe. Sludge, the leftovers of wastewater processing, is largely the remains of human fecal matter.
But some researchers are devising creative uses for the bowl movement brew. There's a researcher in Japan who's supposedly working to
turn sewer sludge into protein burgers
. And now a team of researchers in South Korea has suggested that producing biodiesel from sewage sludge may be cheaper than making it from spent food oil.
The study was led by Eilhann Kwon of the
Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology
. He reasoned that sewage sludge was rich in lipid content, so why not try to turn it into biodiesel -- whose starting component is more typically the lipids found in various waste oils (think used french fry oil).
Sewage sludge lipids are produced when aerobic bacteria in sewer drainage convert pockets ("moieties") of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into lipids, which are then converted to energy. Some of the lipids accumulate in the bacterial bodies which litter the drainage, hence the drainage can become relatively lipid rich.
Using n-hexane Professor Kwon extracted these lipids from dried sewage pellets. The team found that sewage has 2,200 times more lipid per gram than soybeans -- which are considered a fairly "oily" crop. And extracting those lipids cost a mere $0.03 USD per liter, versus $0.80 per liter of soy oil.
Sewage often has thousands of times the amount of lipids per gram as soybean oil and can be produced at a fraction of the cost. [Image Source: ThinkSoy]
So why hasn't this been done before? Well it turns out fatty acid impurities also lurk in sewage, and foul the biodiesel catalytic conversion process, which involves combining the lipids with methanol.
To solve that problem the team came up with a non-catalytic process that uses heat, rather than a catalyst, to drive the reaction to completion. The new process also increases the surface area involved in the reaction to further accelerate the reaction. To do this it traps the reaction ingredients in a porous material -- activated alumina.
In a test, with a reactor heated to 380 °C, with excess carbon dioxide present, a 98 percent conversion rate was achieved.
In lab tests, 98 percent of sewage lipids were converted to biodiesel using the new process.
[Image Source: ACS]
Professor Kwon hopes to move aggressively to offer the new waste salvage technology to sewage processing plants. To do that a desiccation (drying) area would be needed, and extraction facilities would need to be added. But Professor Kwon believes these additions could be paid off in a matter of years, yielding both a profit and environmental gains. He comments, "Waste is not simply waste—it can be converted into useful resources like biodiesel."
The new method has been
[abstract] in the peer-reviewed journal
Environmental Science Technology
Mississippi State University
praised the work in
Chemical Engineering News
, commenting that the results were "very encouraging" while cautioning that quality of waste varies from location to location and amongs given batches at a particular location.
Chemical Engineering News
"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
Bill Gates Looks to Flush Old Toilet Design, Develop More Efficient Models
August 15, 2012, 12:40 PM
Japanese Make "Delicious", Nourishing Steaks From Human Feces
June 17, 2011, 10:51 AM
PIQ ROBOTTM reveals its new artificial intelligence software
November 29, 2016, 12:59 AM
One more time - Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone Around the World
November 24, 2016, 4:00 AM
Google’s Smart Contact Lens Project gets halted for 2016
November 20, 2016, 7:00 AM
Cell Research Study shows African Americans have greater immune response to infection
November 10, 2016, 1:00 AM
UTHealth Clinical Trial Shows Progress Using Stem Cells to Treat Traumatic Brain Injury
November 8, 2016, 1:00 AM
Uber Partners with Circulation to Pilot Program Connecting Transportation and Digital Health Care
November 6, 2016, 5:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Super Hi- Vision Will Amaze the World
January 16, 2017, 9:53 AM
Comparison: Xiaomi Mi Mix Vs. HTC U Ultra
January 14, 2017, 12:10 AM
A Few Technology Trends, Highlight’s of 2017
January 14, 2017, 12:31 AM
Gionee Marathon M5 Plus – China’s Flagship Smartphone
January 15, 2017, 2:02 AM
Samsung Chromebook Plus – Coming in February 2017
January 17, 2017, 12:01 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Jan 20, 2017, 7:00 AM
News of the World
Jan 19, 2017, 7:00 AM
News of the Day Wednesday 1/18/2017
Jan 18, 2017, 12:01 AM
Jan 17, 2017, 12:16 AM
News of the Day
Jan 16, 2017, 12:10 PM
News and Technology Advancement
Jan 16, 2017, 7:58 AM
Jan 15, 2017, 12:32 AM
Here is Some News
Jan 14, 2017, 12:39 AM
News: Improved and New products
Jan 13, 2017, 12:01 AM
News around the world
Jan 12, 2017, 12:01 AM
Rumors and Announcements
Jan 11, 2017, 12:01 AM
This year CES and ridiculous gadgets
Jan 10, 2017, 12:01 AM
Nokia Android phone spurns the west.
Jan 9, 2017, 12:08 AM
New at CES 2017 - Changhong 8K Super Slim TV 65ZHQ3R
Jan 8, 2017, 1:07 AM
Debuted at CES 2017 - Vuzix Blade 3000 Smart Sunglasses
Jan 8, 2017, 12:39 AM
Some news of Day
Jan 7, 2017, 12:01 AM
News 2017 CES
Jan 6, 2017, 12:01 AM
Here is the Latest News in Tech
Jan 5, 2017, 1:47 AM
AI Beats World’s Best at Chinese board game “Go”
Jan 4, 2017, 11:21 AM
Las Vegas 2017 CES
Jan 3, 2017, 12:01 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information