Colorado City Wants To Depend On Its People And Their Poop To Run Its Vehicles

In the green community presently, there is a reliance (or even an over-reliance) when it comes to certain clean energy sources, specifically the sun and the wind. Take note, there is nothing wrong with depending on solar and wind energy to provide humanity with its energy because it is safe for the environment, has limited to no waste, and is renewable. But why is the green community just concentrating on those two? Why isn’t there any investment in improving hydro energy (power from water)? It has been proven to be viable as proven by the Hoover Dam powering Las Vegas. And what about fusion energy? Has research on creating a mini, self-sustaining sun become moot?

Whatever the reasons, the dependence on solar and wind energy has somewhat closed the green community into a tiny glass box when it comes to energy in general. However, Colorado City is showing they don’t want to be confined in such a way as they are breaking through that glass ceiling by utilizing power that comes from, believe it or not, poop to power their vehicles. And to make things even more interesting, the poop they are getting their power isn’t just any poop, but human poop. That’s right! Colorado City’s people are making their autos work simply by taking a number two.

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The Colorado city taking the initiative to turn human waste into an energy source for their vehicles is Grand Junction, as reported by The Guardian. The Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant processes about eight million gallons of the city’s human waste into renewable energy gas (RNG) which is also known as biomethane. It is then used to power 40 vehicles including garbage trucks, street sweepers, dump trucks, and government-funded public transportation (transit buses). As a result, the city literally saves thousands and thousands of dollars not using gas and their carbon footprint is quite low when it comes to their vehicular usage.

Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant
This is one of the refueling stations at the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant located in City of Grand Junction, Colorado (via City of Grand Junction).

Using human poop as fuel is possible by using anaerobic digestion to convert the waste into raw bio-gas, as reported by Inhabitat. It is from the raw bio-gas that RNG is made. Needless to say, this is a potential source of energy that is literally untapped simply because everybody poops. However, many cities have a hard time launching such an endeavor. Jeremy Kranowitz, the executive director of Sustainable America, detailed the reasons why. First and foremost, the infrastructure is complicated. For RNG facilities to be up and running, it needs a dedicated supply of waste which may result in long-term contracts. The financing for such an endeavor is unclear as well, because it is hard to get shareholders to back an endeavor they are unfamiliar with. In short, Kranowitz said people just don’t want to finance in s**t.

From what is known, the project to convert human poop into fuel, which includes the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant, cost a pretty penny, about $2.8 million actually. However, the City of Grand Junction is seeing the gains over the loss. The short-term benefit is the city’s emissions are reduced by up to 80 percent. As for the long-term benefit, the city is saving a lot of money in which the project itself will pay itself off in about seven years.

[Image via City of Grand Junction]

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