In the movie “Mad Max III”, the post apocolypse city was run by pig methane. Well, it was a bizarre city in a bizarre movie.

But now it’s possible that Tinsel Town could get some of it’s electricity from waste water. 

Essentially, they want to take the solids from wastewater, pump them into the holes left underground after oil has been removed, let it ferment, and then voila, instant methane gas.

The renewable energy project calls for injecting spongy organic material left over from treated wastewater into depleted oil and gas reservoirs more than a mile underground.

High temperatures and pressure in those pockets will compress the biosolid material, creating methane gas that will be captured to power fuel cells on the surface, engineers say. The underground processes also will dissolve carbon dioxide that the organic material would normally release into the air, removing the equivalent of exhaust from 3,200 cars each year over the next five years.

If this is feasable, it might be a way to encourage third world cities to build better sewers. For example, we have our own septic tank, but most houses nearby just drain the run off into the open ditches that run into the river/irrigation canals a couple blocks away.

But the real problemfl is not human waste, but animal waste.

Cows produce an estimated 4% of greenhouse gases via belching and excrement, a number that goes up to 15% if you include sheep and animals. In countries with large sheep or dairy industries, it can go even higher: the figure is 25% in the UK and 90% of methane emissions in New Zealand. That’s a lot of gas, as New Zealand farmers discovered when their govenment slapped a flatulence tax on their animals in order to meet it’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocols.

Nor are only large cities experimenting with cow patty power.
This Minnesota farm not only processes their cow manure into electricity but afterward can use the left over liquid as fertilizer. Nor is the processed limited to Cows: In the Netherlands, they use chicken manure.

This last part is interesting, since there are not a lot of cattle ranches iin Luzon, but we have a lot of chicken farms to supply eggs and meat to Manila. We traditionally process the dung into fertilizer, but if a cheap and uncomplicated method could be devised to make electricity, it would enable our farmers to have a cheap source of electricity for their homes.

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Thanks for the Headsup from Land+Living website.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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