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Jul 082008
 

By John DeFore

Its name, SlurryCarb, may be nauseating, and the procedure itself mightn’t be something you’d want to see first-hand. But a new process touted by Atlanta company EnerTech may be part of the answer to the world’s energy woes, while also disposing of sewage.

While some inventors envision other uses for human waste that require it to be processed at, er, the point of disposal, EnerTech’s process begins with the whole sludge of sewage from a sanitation district, then uses heat and pressure to change the slurry’s cellular structure, removing water (which is then returned to a wastewater treatment plant) and resulting in “E-Fuel” a coal substitute that it claims “adds no net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.”

The scheme, colorfully dubbed “poop-to-power” by the Austin American-Statesman, is about to be put to the test in a big way. In Rialto, California, construction is underway on a $160 plant that, according to the company, “will convert approximately 883 wet tons per day of biosolids from five municipalities in the Los Angeles region into 167 dry tons per day of renewable fuel.”

That E-Fuel will be sold to a local cement kiln for use instead of coal, but for the time being most of EnerTech’s revenue will be coming from the sanitation districts supplying the raw material — those districts, which previously trucked waste to farms hundreds of miles away for use as fertilizer, are so relieved to have an easier disposal alternative that they’ve committed to a 25-year deal in which they’ll pay hundreds of millions to give their energy away.

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