START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
1,277,648 people care about Politics

In Spain, You Can Flush The Toilet And Power A Car

In Spain, You Can Flush The Toilet And Power A Car

Chiclana de la Frontera, a beautiful resort town in the southwest of Spain, is known for its sandy beaches lined by tall pinewoods, sprawling golf courses, salt marshes and natural parks around the Bay of Cadiz. The scenery is spectacular, as I experienced on a visit there in 2011.

Now the town is adding another green site to its list of attractions: the world’s first plant to convert sewage into clean energy.

The facility in Chiclana de la Frontera uses raw sewage and sunlight to produce algae-based biofuel as part of a 12 million euro ($15.7 million) project to pursue alternative energies and decrease dependence on foreign oil.

The town was chosen for the site because of its ample sunlight and a long stretch of land that runs along oceanside salt fields where algae can be easily grown in man-made ponds.

It is still in a pilot phase, but the plant harvested its first crop of algae in May and expects to fuel its first car by December.

Biomass simply refers to biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms. Once touted by President Obama as the fuel of the future, biomass has recently been discredited by some critics who believe the large quantities of energy, water and chemicals needed to produce it makes the process unsustainable.

However, not everyone agrees with this assessment: biomass plants are in operation across the UK as it strives to meet the EU goal of deriving 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020. Biomass contributes the second highest amount after offshore wind power.

And this project in Chiclana, called All-gas to sound like “algas” or seaweed in Spanish, also sets out to prove the potential of biomass, becoming the first municipal wastewater plant using cultivated algae as a source for biofuel.

Reuters reports:

While industries such as breweries or paper mills have produced biogas from wastewater for their own energy needs, All-gas is the first to grow algae from sewage in a systematic way to produce a net export of bioenergy, including vehicle biofuel.

“Nobody has done the transformation from wastewater to biofuel, which is a sustainable approach,” said All-gas project leader Frank Rogalla, standing outside a trailer-laboratory set up beside an algae pond at the waste treatment site in Chiclana.

Carbon dioxide is used to produce algae biomass, and the green sludge is transformed into gas, a clean biofuel commonly used in buses or garbage trucks because it is less polluting.

All-gas expects the plant to be fully up and running by 2015, when it aims to generate annual biofuel production worth 100,000 euros, or enough biofuel to run about 200 cars or 10 city garbage trucks a year. However, whether the project is able to fuel cars on a large scale will depend on the amount and quality of biofuel it can produce, and at what cost.

Spain is weighed down by a record 27 percent unemployment rate, with the south disproportionally affected, so the hope is that this facility will help relieve some of the economic pain.

Sewage has also been in the news in Britain, where sewage flakes, a highly combustible new renewable form of fuel that burns like woodchips, are being used for the first time to generate electricity for Britain’s largest water and sewage company.

Thames Water has begun producing the flakes by drying sludge (sewage solids)  in a purpose-built machine at sewage works in Slough, Berkshire.

That very same Thames Water has recently proposed the reintroduction of treated sewage water into the drinking water system as a way “to continue providing drinking water and collecting and treating wastewater, in a safe and reliable way, over the next 25 years.”

In Spain, the All-gas model is still too new for anyone to know for sure how well it will work, but project leader Fank Rogalla is optimistic.

According to Reuters:

“The opportunity is such that 40 million people, roughly the population of Spain, would be able to power 200,000 vehicles from just flushing their toilet!” he said.

 

Read more: , , , , , , , , ,

Photo Credit: thinkstock

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

115 comments

+ add your own
4:21AM PDT on Aug 11, 2013

More of this kind of human impact on the environment, please

2:20PM PDT on Aug 10, 2013

noted, thanks, and lets hope it works well!

1:53PM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

Before humans tried to change everything...nature composted everything. We need dirt. We are losing our surface ground. It is being washed in the waters instead of growing plants to eat and to save the ground from going away.
Any program that helps make dirt is a winner to me.

5:54PM PDT on Jul 9, 2013

Sounds like a good idea if people can put up with the smell.

2:37PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Interesting article

2:43AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Noted. Thanks for posting

10:37AM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

ty

7:34AM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

Yes it is a good idea if it works, but there is a price we have to pay for all human activity, and those that pay the price are those that live around these biomass plants, I know because I live near one and its not nice. I don't know if the one I live near is the same as this one in Spain, but if I had the money I would be out of here like a shot!

3:20AM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

And you wonder why Spain is an economic miracle.

1:26AM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free
CONTACT THE EDITORS

Recent Comments from Causes

Police State needs to be Pushed back...

RK H. "Diversity is good but it takes generations for it to happen". No, diversity can happen quickly,…

I think it is fabulous that this sensor was invented. But I think it is sad that there was a need for…

ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.