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
"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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
Surface Pro 5 Rumors - New Release Date and Price
April 22, 2017, 6:45 AM
Vivo V5 Plus – the Selfie Softlight is on You.
April 17, 2017, 7:05 AM
What is the Apple’s iPhone 8 specifications and release date?
April 14, 2017, 5:43 AM
Meet the Smartphone with four cameras - Alcatel Flashphone
April 5, 2017, 11:20 AM
ASUS RT-AC5300 – Ultimate Game & 4K Streaming
April 18, 2017, 7:45 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sound Bars and the Costs?
Apr 23, 2017, 6:30 AM
Link your Brain to Your Computer – In Four Years…Maybe
Apr 22, 2017, 7:03 AM
Google Home can now identify users by their voice.
Apr 21, 2017, 7:15 AM
Amazon Lex – Now Available for Developers.
Apr 20, 2017, 6:58 AM
You can now use Instagram offline on your Android Smartphone
Apr 19, 2017, 8:00 AM
Now you can livestream to YouTube from your mobile device.
Apr 18, 2017, 8:05 AM
Google Home – Is It a Spy Device?
Apr 17, 2017, 7:30 AM
Apple added to self –driving test permit list
Apr 15, 2017, 6:21 AM
Project Scorpio – Coming on June 11
Apr 14, 2017, 6:20 AM
Looks Like Samsung Has Been Forgiven.
Apr 13, 2017, 6:50 AM
United Airlines - Blasted on China’s Social Network and the Stock Market
Apr 12, 2017, 6:50 AM
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hacked
Apr 11, 2017, 6:25 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro5 Details Revealed
Apr 9, 2017, 6:41 AM
Own An Android Phone? Then you could be hacked over Wi-FI
Apr 7, 2017, 6:47 AM
Apple confirms iOS 10.3 bug and its effect on iCloud Services
Apr 6, 2017, 6:30 AM
Apple Rolls Out New Version of Apple Music
Apr 5, 2017, 10:35 AM
Apple in the News
Apr 4, 2017, 9:03 AM
Apple iPhones Will Soon Feature Graphics Chips Designed BY Apple
Apr 3, 2017, 6:23 AM
AMD Ryzen Desktop Processors Performance
Apr 2, 2017, 6:30 AM
What makes a camera Lensless?
Apr 1, 2017, 7:45 AM
Google halts Android Wear 2.0 Update Due to Bug
Mar 31, 2017, 7:27 AM
Uber Technologies Inc Driverless Car hit by Human-driver
Mar 30, 2017, 8:00 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information