Bacteria made to turn sewage into clean water – and electricity

Posted by K R on

THEY’RE miraculous in their own way, even if they don’t quite turn water into wine. Personal water treatment plants could soon be recycling our waste water and producing energy on the side. Last month, Boston-based Cambrian Innovation began field tests of what’s known as a microbial fuel cell at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland. Called BioVolt, in one day it can convert 2250 litres of sewage into enough clean water for at least 15 people. Not only that, it generates the electricity to power itself – plus a bit left over. This is a big deal, as conventional treatment plants guzzle energy – typically consuming 1.5 kilowatt-hours for every kilogram of pollutants removed. In the US, this amounts to a whopping 3 per cent of the total energy demand. If the plants could be self-powered, recycling our own waste water could become as commonplace as putting a solar panel on a roof. Existing treatment plants use bacteria to metabolise the organic material in waste water. “There’s lots of food for them, so they reproduce fast,” says Cambrian chief technology officer Justin Buck. At the end of the process, the microbes can make up a third by weight of the leftovers to be disposed of. Before being put in landfill, this “microbe cake” itself needs to be heat-sterilised and chemically treated, which uses a lot of energy. Read More: New Scientist

Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →


0 comments

Leave a comment