Biodiesel from sewage?

This guest post is from Garlynn Woodsong.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is, according to this article, putting the finishing touches on a process that produces biodiesel from “Brown Grease,” or the grease that is collected from the kitchens at restaurants. They estimate that they could produce 700,000 gallons of biodiesel a year, or more, from the stuff — more than enough to supply the 300,000 gallons a year that their own fleet of diesel vehicles consumes. Their testing is especially significant, since they believe that their method of producing biodiesel from brown grease also eliminates the nasty air pollution that has traditionally been associated with burning the stuff, related to its high sulfur content, among other things.

Could Portland use the same process to turn brown grease into biodiesel?

And what about the rest of the crap at the sewage treatment plant? According to this article, a New Zealand company has been turning the algae that grows on top of the ponds into biodiesel for over a year! This is a win-win situation, since the algae itself is known for producing foul smells, and its removal (or harvesting, if you will) actually aids in the cleaning process that produces “clean” water for re-use or discharge.

So, could Portland’s sewage treatment plants actually be converted into massive biodiesel factories, helping to power Tri-Met, the city’s own diesel vehicle fleet, as well as producing excess to help power private vehicles like trucks and diesel passenger cars?

Preliminary indications from East Bay MUD are that utilities could actually make a profit on such an endeavor. Is Portland already working on such a plan behind the scenes? How long until we can fuel up with biodiesel made from poo?

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