Waste not want not

Thursday 07th Oct 2010 by theWeather Club

A pilot project run by Centrica in Oxfordshire is producing bio-gas from domestic sewage for use in people's homes. The waste is stored for 18 days and then turned into domestic gas which will supply about 200 homes with power. The scheme sees sewage arriving at sewage works for treatment as usual, but then the solid part of the waste goes through a process known as anaerobic digestion where bacteria break down the biodegradable material to create gas. The process is already used to create renewable electricity from sewage, with the gas produced being used to drive turbines, but this is the first time that the gas produced has been pumped out for use in homes. The £2.5m project is a joint venture between Thames Water, British Gas and Scotia Gas Networks.

"This renewable gas project is a real milestone in Britain's energy history, and will help customers and the environment," said Gearóid Lane, managing director of communities and new energy at British Gas. "Renewable gas has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting the UK's energy needs. Gas from sewage is just one part of a bigger project, which will see us using brewery and food waste and farm slurry to generate gas to heat homes."

Industry analysts believe that eventually 15% of all gas consumed could eventually come from human waste, sewage slurry and discarded food. Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne said: "It's not every day that a secretary of state can announce that, for the first time ever in the UK, people can cook and heat their homes with gas generated from sewage. This is a historic day for the companies involved, for energy from waste technologies, and for progress to increase the amount of renewable energy in the UK."

So in the future spending a penny could help with saving the earth.