A New Use for Night Soil

From the Guardian comes word of research into new sources of biofuels:

Britain could meet much of its future energy demand by turning waste products such as wood, plastic bags and even human sewage into transport fuels, scientists said yesterday.

So-called “second generation” biofuels could also be produced from agricultural wastes such as straw, as well as farmed energy crops such as willow, and would be free of the controversies that surround current green fuels. A network of waste converters across the country could produce a third of the diesel required by UK motorists while slashing greenhouse gas emissions, the scientists said.

Building the plants that would make such biofuel products doesn’t come cheap. But let’s face it, the supply of raw materials is in abundant. And unlike ethanol, it wouldn’t require an enormous federal subsidy to produce (yet…somewhere the bureaucratic wheels are turning to develop poop price supports…or will be, if the idea catches on here).

If ever there was an opportunity for Virginia to take the lead in alternative energy production, here it is.

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6 responses to “A New Use for Night Soil”

  1. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Mr. Leahy:

    Did you read our column on the Conservation Imperative?

    As I recall the use of sluge from the Town of Warrenton’s treatment plant is part of the feedstock for Mayor Fitch’s energy scheme.

    The reason I asked if you read the column is that one imparitive is the requirement for smallscale, applications at the Alpha Village and Alpha Community scale.


  2. Norman Leahy Avatar
    Norman Leahy

    I have read your column (and am still trying to grasp all it contains).

    I also just re-read Jim’s column on Fitch’s biomass idea. It proves to me that, once again, George was the best candidate running in 2005.

    I very much like the idea of locating fuel/energy sources as close to their points of use as possible. It makes good economic sense.

  3. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “Building the plants that would make such biofuel products doesn’t come cheap.”

    And then there is the question of WHERE to put them. The NIMBY’s will have a field day with this. Here is a case where logically you would want to put the plants where there is the largest source of supply.

    They should add a lot to our vibrant urban fabric.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    …”WHERE to put them”

    geeze .. have you not heard of Sewage Treatment Plants?

    What they’ve done in California and now in some Dairy Farms is instead of “processing” the stuff for “discharge” into a receiving stream – they truly recycle it into energy.

    Imagine the unbridled joy.. of knowing.. when you are taking a dump.. that you are also powering up your microwave…

    you know.. they could put a fancy LCD panel .. in the bathroom to show just how much power you generated… with each new contribution.


  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    You are assuming that such facilities could be put on to p of or in place of our present facilities.

    I think that is a Gross assumption.

    Pardon the pun.

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    GROSS is right!

    In the articles I’ve read – you replace some of the settling basins with these big spherical “cookers” that “encourage” faster generation of gas…

    I don’t think they are totally zero discharge yet – and the whole thing is at risk if someone dumps something into the sewer that kills the micro-organizations that “eat” the stuff …

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