Landfills and sewage presently add massive amounts of pollution to the environment, despite brave attempts to contain the damage they render in landfills and sewage plants. In fact, the waste is being wasted! They almost completely untapped source of “Biogas ” that could help society meet it’s energy needs.  

What Is Biogas?  

Biogas primarily contains methane and carbon dioxide. With the use of anaerobic bacteria, , biogas with produce through the fermentation of organic matter in an air-tight environment.  

What is Biogas Good For?   Biogas could certainly be utilized for producing electricity, heating homes, heating water, and a myriad of other uses. It is produced from organic waste such as human sewage, animal dung, discarded vegetables, and other organic waste products. The images that come to mind definitely aren’t pretty. Often, such waste is just hidden away in landfills. Out of sight, out of mind, right?  

Sewage and Garbage: A Beautiful Thing?  

It may be hard to imagine that this is a precious resource. After all, it isn’t gold or diamonds. But, it could be a valuable source of energy, and it is not being utilized. But, it is a renewable energy source and a viable alternative to natural gas, propane or other fossil fuels.  

Poop Power – Is it Possible?  

A waste-water treatment plant can produce enough biogas to create 1 megawatt of electricity for each 30 million gallons of waste water input.   South Plant in Renton, Washington, USA), a regional size sewage treatment plant receives 100 million gallons per day of influent sewage. In a pioneering effort to use sewage to produce energy, set up a system to produce biogas used with stationary fuel cells, enough to supports 1 megawatt of electricity, enough for 400 residential homes.  

The Potential for Application of Fuel Cells For Stationary Power Plants Within Cities  

A scale-up of the utilization of sewage plants certain poses many challenges, but of a constructive and positive nature vs the challenges of ever growing landfills and sewage.   The largest commercially available fuel cell power plant on the market today is the 1 megawatt South Plant unit tested in Renton, Washington. Multiple fuel cell plants could be linked together, though there have not been applications at a scale larger than several megawatts.  

Where Can Enough Biogas be Found To Help Meet The Power Needs of Cities?  

Finding a supply of biogas large enough to produce electricity on the scale required in cities is a problem. Where can they be found? Answer: Landfills – Some landfills contain enough gas to produce 20 or more megawatts of electricity. The total power demand of an urban area are immense. Commercial and industrial land uses require large amounts of electricity.  

Fuel Cell Power Plants  

Fuel cell power plants, operating on biogas or natural gas, are being looked upon as a way to supplement other forms of power generation.  

Localized Energy Supplies  

This is absolutely a concept that should be implemented for future land development projects, as well as applied that already-developed areas.   The practice of distributed power generation suggests that power production should be located close to the power consumer. This is one reason hotels are beginning to embrace fuel cell power plants for their individual buildings. They can use not only the electricity produced but also the heat for space heating, laundry, etc.   Power plants can be scaled up to provide the electricity needed in smaller communities; even isolating the community from the grid with energy needs perhaps primarily supplied by natural gas and supplemented with biogas, solar power, wind power, and other energy sources.