Imagine a sewage-treatment system that powers itself. The possibility is not just an energy issue; it’s a public health issue. In
The company they created in 2007, Acesa Bioenergia, uses power generated by sewage itself to clean up the waste. From the facility’s supply of “biomass,” the term for any renewable organic fuel, the company captures the “biogas” emitted by its decomposition, which can then be refined into natural gas to power the facility or for resale. According to Schittini, the system will not only produce enough natural gas to cover 100 percent of a treatment plant’s energy demand but can also become a net supplier of energy. Because a plant’s energy costs are second only to personnel costs, both partners hope their model will make large-scale sewage treatment viable and profitable, proving that energy happens.
Similar concepts have proved successful elsewhere. An estimated 30 percent of
Schittini, 30, and Pereira, 31, have been working together since 2004. Their project is now in a research stage at the ETE Alegria sewage-treatment plant in
The two are also currently in talks with several food producers to discuss gaining access to the biomass left over from their production (rather than consumption) of foodstuffs.
Few companies are aware of the bonanza that resides in their manufacturing processes. Schittini has yet to see a single company during his travels throughout