With fossil fuels no longer a viable option for powering new industry, it is vital that businesses look for alternative ways to harness cleaner, more renewable sources of energy. For one California winery, that means finding a way to use their waste water as a self-renewing form of fuel.
MSNBC recently reported that Napa Wine Company in Oakville, Calif., is one of the first commercial businesses in the country to experiment with a new renewable method for generating hydrogen fuel from waste water.
Most people don’t realize that there are several ways to utilize wastewater for energy, and many water treatment plants are already using some sort of energy reclamation process.
“The waste water treatment process can generate energy three ways: burning sludge or excess gas; developing a dewatered cake or dried product to burn at a power-generating station or cement plant; and anaerobic digestion, the oldest and most common source of energy,” reports AmericanCityandCounty.com.
At the Napa Wine Company, this reclamation takes place in a generator no bigger than a normal refrigerator. Waste and water from the grape disposal and equipment cleaning processes are funneled into the generator and immediately start to be eaten by the microbes waiting inside. With the addition of a little electric current, the bacteria quickly break the organic materials left in the wastewater into hydrogen gas.
According to the MSNBC report, the company already has on-site waste water treatment and recycling, and the partially treated water from the hydrogen generator will join other water for further treatment and use in irrigation.
The experimental generator will continuously process about 1,000 liters of wastewater a day. Eventually, the winery would like to use the hydrogen to run vehicles and power systems.
But what about businesses that aren’t producing wine, or any other organic waste product? One city in Florida has already implemented a plan for reusing the waste water most of us contribute to without even thinking.
Earlier this year, the City of Sanford started using a unique MaxWest system gasifies treated waste water sludge to provide renewable “green” thermal energy to replace energy from natural gas for the City’s sludge dryer. The energy in sludge is converted to heat safely and economically.
The innovation in these projects and similar efforts around the world, are evidence that we no longer need to rely on the dying oil industry to power our lives. Supporting more research and development for renewable technologies is the way of the future.
Image Credit: www.northernlightswine.com