The Power of Poop
Poop is becoming a serious alternative power source. Here are four stories about companies making a real difference by cleaning up the environment and producing energy at the same time.
Cow Manure and Cosmetics
One of the world's leading manufacturers of sweet-smelling cosmetics, L'Oreal, is hardly a company you would associate with manure. In 2009,at the company's factory in Libramont, Belgium, completed work on an anaerobic digestion system to capture methane from waste biomass and burn it to generate electricity and heat for the site.
Pierre Simoncelli, L'Oreal director for sustainable development says "we plan to start by using a mixture of organic waste and corn, but we should then be able to switch fairly quickly to just using organic waste." Biomass power system should provide enough energy for 85 per cent of the factories' current requirements.
The project is part of a major new environmental push from L'Oreal, which plans to cut carbon emissions from its factories and warehouses by 50 per cent on 2005 levels by 2015, while also halving water use and waste generation per unit of finished product.
Goose Poop adds Fuel to the Fire
Canadian Geese, thanks to conservation efforts, have becomesomething of an environmental pest across North America. Although many citizens enjoy the sight and sound ofmigrating geese, the turf damage and large accumulations of droppings are an unwelcome source of pollution.
The Canadian recycling firm, reGeneration Fuels, has patented a process for scooping up droppings from lawns, where the problem is greatest in most cities, and converting them to biochar, flammable pellets that can be burned in wood stoves. The poop pellets are odorless and provide a green alternative to wood fires, although they burn more quickly than wood. They m ay also be added to a wood fire to increase the heat of the fire, reducing carbon emissions by 50%
During 2008, the first year of production, over 2,500 tons of goose poop was converted into 850 tons of 'goose logs' (as they are called by some users) and earned reGeneration Fuels a Manning Innovation Award.
Chicken Manure to Power 90,000 Homes
The world’s largest biomass power plant running exclusively on chicken manure has opened in the Netherlands. The power plant will deliver renewable electricity to 90,000 households. It has a capacity of 36.5 megawatts, and will generate more than 270 million kWh of electricity per year.
The biomass power plant is more than merely “carbon neutral”. If the chicken manure were to be spread out over farm land, it would release not only CO2, but also methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. By using the manure for power generation, the release of methane is avoided.
The biomass power plant will utilize approximately 440,000 tons of chicken manure, roughly one third of the total amount produced each year in the Netherlands. Many European countries, including the Netherlands, suffer under an excess of different types of animal manure that pollute the environment.
Dog Poop Powers San Francisco
Pet feces currently makes up nearly 4 percent of San Francisco’s residential waste. So the city has found a better use for it than simply filling up garbage cans (and getting stuck on people’s shoes).
The pet poop is first put into an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert organic waste into methane gas. Burning that gas produces energy in the form of electricity, natural gas, and liquefied natural gas. This gas is then captured and used to power equipment that normally runs on natural gas, such as a kitchen stove or a heater. The 2 week long “digestion process” also produces valuable compost for agriculture.
Despite the potential for jokes, this program will help the city reach its goal of diverting 75 percent of its waste from landfills by 2010. Norcal Waste, the waste management contractor for San Francisco, is heading up the project.