Wastewater as an Energy SourceEnvironmental Training Resource
November 5, 2012 — 930 views
Wastewater as an Energy Source
One of the key principles of sustainable and green design is making efficient use of all the resources one has at their disposal. There are many ways that we can take the so-called “effluent” or waste from a system and turn it into an energy source or input for a different system, thereby increasing the efficiency and sustainability of everyday processes. Take, for example, one of the most important and often used resources known to mankind: water.
Water is vital to the existence of living things and it is also vital to modern, technologically advanced life as we know it. It takes a great deal of water to produce the things we use on a daily basis, to produce our energy and to get products and services from farm or factory to retail stores.
Water is also a dwindling resource that cannot be replenished fast enough at the rate we are using it. This means that we need to look towards more water efficient and water saving methods of energy and materials production. But how can we do this?
Waste Water or Grey Water
There are many forms of waste water or so-called “grey water.” In a residence, for example, waste water is the water that is used to flush the toilet, that goes down the drain while we shower or do dishes. The water that is pumped into the sewer system as it is not fit for drinking or human consumption. This water must be piped into a treatment facility before it can be useful again, all of this takes a massive amount of energy.
The use of this water in energy and industrial processes provides industry with the water they need to make their systems work, while not relying on a constant source of fresh, clean, otherwise useful water. The use of this waste water in processes that do not have any direct contact with humans would really do a lot towards reducing industrial water consumption. The water is perfectly suitable for industry.
Making use of waste water makes complete sense. For our power generation needs, we do not need fresh clean water, we simply need water. There are many industrial processes where this is the case. Water that would otherwise be wasted can now be recycled into industry and it can be recycled a number of times, improving the overall efficiency of the system and reducing our burden on the water table.