Washington DC Electrified with Raw Sewage

Completely unrelated to the current political climate in the United States, did you know Washington D.C. is partially powered by a sewage plant? No, seriously.

That’s right, just this week the D.C. Water utility company has announced a bioenergy facility that makes use of resident’s waste water into producing methane gas which can than be burned to generate electricity — To the tune of 10 megawatts! The facility is saving the company an estimated $10 million a year in energy bills.

Simply put, the liquid is removed from the sewage water and the solids are refined into a type of fuel. Those solids are heated, mixed, and sterilized into a form that can be easily digested by a certain type of microbe, which then in turn produce methane for burning. For a more detailed explanation, check out the info-graphic from the Washington Post explaining the entire process.

And on a smaller scale, you could do something like this in your very own backyard.

25 thoughts on “Washington DC Electrified with Raw Sewage

      1. representation of any clean energy bill before [insert democrat or republican or etc here] gets their hands on it and adds their unrelated personal agenda crap into it and resubmits.

    1. They’re pretty effective, but there’s unfortunately little energy in sewage. I read a Swedish study that concluded the flushings of 9 million people would power on average about 10,000 gas-powered cars and no more. It’s a rather trivial source of energy.

      10 MW sounds like a lot (mega!), but that’s basically about 4000 average UK households, and considering that households are just a fifth of the overall energy demand, that amount of power only actually sustains a small community on the order of 1000 people.

      1. While they are small, they have the additional upshot that they burn the methane from the decay instead of it getting released the normal way, as the co2 produced are much less potent as a green house gas.

        Some of the city buses in my town are powered by methane from household food waste. Energy, less methane in the atmosphere and less diesel engine particles in the city center (others are diesel/electric hybrids).

        It’s a minuscule part of the “solution”, but worthwhile and a nice one for what it is.

        1. Agreed. Around here, they use bio digestors a lot in farms and the like, where there are enough sources of waste, and running electric cables would be costly or problematic, due to rivers or forests in the way

          1. When you keep adding it continuously, there’s always an amount of methane up there.

            The half-life of methane in the atmosphere is about 10 years, so it sticks around long enough to cause trouble.

  1. 10 elephants poop a ton a day and pee 500 gallons. If we could just use all of that GOP (gee oh pee), Washington could power the country.
    Even we have a cogen at our sewer plant.

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