Monday, March 14, 2011
Waste Water = The New Energy Source?
Most countries spend a substantial amount of time, energy, and money, to treat wastewater so that it will not cause harm to the environment. What if all of this effort could be put into using the waste liquid as an alternative energy source? Wastewater is currently being looked at as a problem rather than a resource. If the energy from this substance can be harnassed and used, it would help water industries become more self-sufficient energy-wise. It would also help those countries that are worse off and who clean water by spending vital resources that they cannont really afford to spare. The U.S. alone uses nearly 1.5 percent of the nation's electrical energy to treat 12.5 trillion gallons of wastewater per year. So, why dump the water after cleansing rather than convert its energy into an energy resource? If this were done, it would no longer be an energy loss to manage waste water, but an energy gain.
The energy in waste water is due to the bonds in the organic molecules, ranging from small, simple chains, to large complex ones. A new freeze-dry technique is being used to recover this energy and it has allowed for better energy recovery. One other study has researched the energy found in waste water. It harnessed 20 percent less energy than what really was present because the freeze-dry technique was not used meaning that there most definitely was loss of some energy-rich compounds due to evaporation.