Gas from Sewage Waste Runs City Power Plant (Mar, 1922)

Gas from Sewage Waste Runs City Power Plant

SEWAGE that costs large cities tremendous sums each year can be turned into a source of power equivalent to thousands of tons of coal! The waste now dumped into rivers or shipped to sea may be used to run factories or to light buildings!

That conversion of sewage into power is possible has been proved conclusively by the city of Birmingham, England. There a suction gas engine of 20 brake horsepower has been successfully driven by the gases given off by sewage sludge.

On the basis of the Birmingham experiments, an American city that must now pay for the disposal of 400,000 tons of sewage sludge a year might produce 320,000,000 cubic feet of gas suitable for heat and power, or, in terms of energy, 16,000,000 horsepower hours at 20 cubic feet per brake horsepower.

The apparatus for producing gas from sewage consists of two sludge digestion tanks in which the sewage is allowed to ferment. The gases given off are composed of from 25 to 75 per cent of methane, or marsh gas.

A gas engine of the usual type will run on sewage gas without adjustment of the valves. Sewage gas has a higher calorific value than some illuminating gas, averaging about 650 thermal units to the cubic foot, as against 550.

The Birmingham engine runs about six hours a day and is used to operate a centrifugal sludge pump that moves the wet sludge from the gas-generating tank to the drying grounds. In this process a small proportion of the waste material produces enough power to run the pumps of the sewage disposal plant. If all the material were used, there would probably be enough gas available to light the city.

  1. Uncle B says: March 17, 200810:16 am

    Composting toilets and recycling urine for gardens will make sewage systems obsolete in a world of LED lighting, super-insulated solar heated cottages in solar villages with cottage industries linked by bicycle transportation. Microwave cooking, solar powered computers, solar powered TVs, cellphones in place of landlines and their high loss wires, solid state, solar powered high efficiency refrigeration, better deep cycle storage batteries, wind power, electric bikes and cars, solar distilled drinking water, aquaculture on home gardening scale, and computer control of all these components will be everywhere. Composted food wastes and gray water will recycle through large gardens growing our local food supply, combined with super-species vegetables bio-engineered for high nutritional content and flavor. There will be less war in the world because we will be able to share this technology as fast as we develop it. Corporations will become tools of the population, just the opposite of today, an mankind will have made a greater, and hopefully an American led step forward. Welcome, 21st century!

  2. crankshaft says: March 22, 200811:48 am

    Uncle B, you sound like we’ll all be living in Utopia. Time to sit around the campfire… make that the solar powered heater… and we’ll all sing Kumbaya.

  3. Be Real says: April 27, 20081:21 am

    @ Uncle B
    I don’t know what you’ve been smoking or which Gulag or concentration camp you were confined in, but it’s affecting your perceptions of REALITY in the World today!

    Now this blog is simply about informing people that we are not so much more advanced than former societies in histories and talk about recycling? ……. what an excellent idea. Recycling Waste seems to me a novel idea that’s time has come. Right now simply disposing of waste gases by releasing them into the environment seems like a tremendous WASTE of naturally occurring free energy.

    So Uncle B? ….take your tin foil Marxist’s cap off and face the fact you left out the fact, that what you propose for some sort of nirvanic village of wisdom, will never work in big cities in the world of today. Unless of course, you’re talking about turning all the excess people into “Soylent Green” Society compost to feed your carrot patch ….er the only route to your choice could lead to cannibalizing the World to feed and give comfort to a few people in a village! 😉

  4. Grewal says: October 17, 200812:02 pm

    It is an encouraging article for the champions or believers of socio economic sustainability.It is not possible to shut the sewerage systems in the near future,instead we should devise ways to use the gas produced by sewerage & then try to gasify the dried waste.This process shall help reduce the polution of underground & river waters very quickly & save the enviorenment from being poluted.We at Heavely Farms are running the generator(80 kva) on farm waste & wood & progressing @ a very fast pace in order to achieve complete sustainability @ our organic farms.

  5. frank Pittsburgh says: October 20, 20081:01 pm

    It looks like the Department of Energy is currently sponsoring research in this area:…

    Uncle B. may become the Commisar of Poop in the future.

  6. Roger says: January 12, 20095:08 pm

    Wonderful ideas for a Utopian socity shouldn’t bee dismissed off hand.
    While nothing will bring about a Utopian socity until Mankind overcomes his constant need to overpopulate every spot on earth, ideas like those above will make the crowds slightly more bearable.

  7. blast says: February 21, 20093:13 am

    Methane gas recovery from landfills is a growth industry, from the looks of it. I have (slight) involvement in two such projects. Here are references for the curious:……

  8. h.k.shah says: October 25, 200912:11 am

    Dear sirs,
    Our co. is based in india and we are trading & dealing in diesel engine spares and earthmoving spares.
    As we gone through site and found that you may be helpfull in set up gas base power plant in sewage.
    As we have an small tender in our city of to set up.75mw power plant on sewage base.
    Now pl inform what help you can do?


  9. Frank Pittsburgh says: October 25, 200911:37 am

    If any of you have eaten in an Indian restaurant, it looks like Mr. Shah (above) may have some high quality feedstock to work with! On my last trip to Mumbai, I thought that you could extract a lot of methane from the air as well as the sewage.

  10. Toronto says: October 26, 200912:10 am

    Frank: Now was that nice?

  11. Toronto says: October 26, 200912:17 am

    Charlie – I had a prof once who raised chickens on the side – and ran his farm/garden tractor off chicken-sourced methane. I seem to remember the contraption was froms a Mother Earth News article. Ever feature the likes of that here?

  12. h.k.shah says: October 26, 200912:53 am

    Any one who can help me to set up sewage gas based power plant of .775mw in india,pl inform us urgently.
    We are interested to maje joint venture with said co.

  13. Charlie says: October 26, 20091:32 pm

    Toronto: I don’t remember anything like that, sorry.

  14. Firebrand38 says: October 26, 20091:57 pm
  15. mahesh k. dongre says: April 11, 20118:20 am

    iwant to use the sewage which run through the gudder line in the city, it is collected in the tank located out side the city and separeted by seteled down method and water run forword that water fall on the turbine to produce electricity by hydroelectric method and produce the gas from the sewage which collected in the tank. that gas is for domestic purpose and electric for the city.

  16. John says: April 11, 20118:44 am

    mahesh k. dongre: Go right ahead.

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