TECH

Creating Fuel From Human Sewage Could Soon Be A Reality

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03/11/2016 10:37

While humanity is in full panic mode about what we’re going to do once we’ve drained the earth of all natural fossil fuels, it seems the answer could have been right under our noses all along. 

New technology being pioneered at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, could see human sewage being turned into bio-based fuel as early as 2018.

altrendo images via Getty Images

Using a process called Hydrothermal Liquefaction, each individual could be capable of producing as much as two or three gallons of biocrude oil every year.

Water treatment plants across the USA estimate that they could treat up to 34 million gallons of sewage every day with this method, and produce up to 30 million barrels of oil per year. 

A plant in Vancouver has already bought a license to have the technology and plans to start production in 2018 if all goes to plan in the design phase next year.

Hydrothermal Liquefaction mimics the geological conditions (high pressure and temperature) that earth uses and can create crude oil in minutes, rather than the million of years it takes Mother Nature.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

The resulting products looks and performs similarly to fossil petroleum, only with a small amount of water and oxygen mixed in. It can then be refined using traditional refining methods. 

Human waste has long been seen as a poor ingredient because it is too wet, and the drying phase previously made it too intensive and expensive. 

Corinne Drennan from PNNL said: “The best thing about this [new] process is how simple it is .The reactor is literally a hot, pressurized tube. We’ve really accelerated hydrothermal conversion technology over the last six years to create a continuous, and scalable process.”

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