Logan City Council is claiming an Australian-first after converting human waste to energy at its largest wastewater treatment plant.
They system is being used to turn human poo into charcoal which can be used to improve agricultural land.
It’s the first time the process, known as gasification, has been incorporated into an Australian wastewater treatment plant.
Logan City, in partnership with engineering firm Pyrocal and integrated services company Downer, has been trialing gasification at the Loganholme Wastewater Treatment Plant with funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The process involves baking sewage sludge in extreme temperatures to produce a synthetic gas, or ‘biogas’, which is then used to heat the remaining waste and turn it into charcoal, or ‘biochar’, that can be added to soil to make it more fertile for agriculture.
Without the use of the biogas, the 34,000 tonnes of biosolids produced each year at Loganholme have to be dried and treated using an energy-intensive mechanical process.
Mayor Darren Power says the Loganholme plant has been sending three truckloads of biochar to the Darling Downs farming region each day.
“The gasification process perfected at Loganholme will reduce the volume of biosolids by 90 per cent and help our farmers,” he said.
“This will save ratepayers around $500,000 annually while significantly reducing our carbon footprint.”
Infrastructure Committee Chair Teresa Lane says the process will reduce carbon emissions by 4,800 tonnes a year and prevent organic pollutants from getting into the soil.
She says it will be a game-changer for the industry, and is already attracting interest from renewable energy companies and municipal councils overseas.
“Using synthetic gas in this way in something that hasn’t been tried before so everyone has been watching to see how it would pan out,” Cr Lane said.
The gasification facility is expected to become fully operational by July 2021 and Council is already exploring commercial opportunities to sell the biochar, with the trial also providing a business case for similarly sized wastewater treatment plants across Australia.
ARENA is providing $6 million towards the $17 million project.
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