Washington State University working on sewage-to-biogas process
WSU researchers converted more than 85% of organic material, which can be used to produce electricity or upgraded to renewable natural gas, according to findings published in Waste Management.
"This is not a very high-tech solution. It's actually a solution that can be useful even at a small scale," said Birgitte Ahring, faculty member at the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory at WSU-TC.
WSU said oxygen under high-pressure conditions serves as catalyst to break down the polymers in waste material.
About half of the US' wastewater treatment plants currently utilise anaerobic digestion for waste reduction, but a proportion of leftover sludge often ends up in landfills.
WSU researchers are working with Clean-Vantage, a Richland clean technology start-up, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), to further demonstrate the sewage to biogas conversion process.
"This can be applicable and something we could begin to explore in Washington state. Not wasting waste, but using its potential instead has major advantages," said Ahring.