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The Green Life: A Crappy Idea

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October 14, 2009

A Crappy Idea

Sewer.manhole.cover Add a new substance to the list of unlikely materials that can fuel cars: sewage.

Yes, poop is poised to join corn, algae, sugarcane, vegetable oil and all the rest as they jostle for a place in the biofuel market. 

Sludge-as-fuel doesn’t sound pretty, but it has some definite eco-benefits. More than half of the 15 trillion gallons of sewage produced annually in the U.S. gets turned into fertilizer for farms and gardens; some contend this poses risks to our health

A few poop-powered projects are turning up. Flint, Michigan plans to transform the city’s sludge into fuel for their buses. In ecologically advanced Sweden, cars that can run on sewage-based biogas have been on the market for years. More recently, an Israeli and an American company have partnered to create biofuel from the cellulose in processed sewage. They say a wastewater plant serving a population of about 2 million can produce enough cellulose to make ethanol.

No word on how it smells.

-- Année Tousseau

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