Power When You Need It: Water Environment Research Foundation highlights the energy potential in wastewater



The energy potential in wastewater is tremendous, but will new technologies be able to wring enough energy from waste to transform our treatment plants into energy producers?

This headline question is posed in the Summer 2009 issue of Progress, a publication of the US-based Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF).

According to WERF, “researchers have measured the energy content of raw wastewater samples and determined that domestic wastewater, which has organic matter with embedded energy content, contains almost ten times the energy needed to treat it.”

WERF says this means wastewater and biosolids can potentially meet roughly 10 percent of the United States national electricity demand. “To accomplish will take a concerted effort to develop and deploy new practices and technologies that cost-effectively recover energy and resources from wastewater and biosolids.”

“WERF is funding research to further new technologies, such as reconfiguring the microbial-based treatment processes to function as a microbial fuel cell and generate current.”

“Researchers are also examining physical, mechanical, biological, and chemical processes that can contribute to energy recovery or reduce energy demand.”


Posted September 2009