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…On Some Awesome Shit.

Posted by Steve on September 9, 2008

The City of San Antonio, Texas, has just given the world yet another reminder of how much unadulterated awesomeness engineers impart to the world. In this case, it looks like it was mainly environmental engineers:

“The citizens of San Antonio produce about 140,000 tons of biosolids each year,” said SAWS Chief Operating Officer Steve Clouse. “Treating these biosolids generates an average of 1.5 million cubic feet of gas a day – that’s enough gas to fill seven commercial blimps or 1,250 tanker trucks each day.”

That’s right. The San Antonio Water Service has signed a contract with a company in Massachusetts giving the company 20 years of access to the sewer treatment facility, and more importantly to a certain raw material there. The company gets to install processing equipment on-site to collect the methane, and the water service gets a 12% cut of the methane sales.

They’re collecting and selling natural gas that’s been refined from human excrement! Take that, biodiesel! In your face, cellulosic ethanol! Your appointment’s been scheduled with Dr. Kevorkian, corn-based ethanol!* This is awesome!

Seriously. Sewage is about to be, at least in one city in Texas, nigh unto 100% recycled. How cool is that? Very cool, that’s how cool. They’re turning shit into something useful!

*Corn-based ethanol (more specifically, mandates and subsidies for its production and distribution) really does need to be taken out back and shot. The only way I can think of for one policy to do a more thoroughly destructive job of simultaneously harming the environment, the economy, and the U.S. and world fuel, water, and food supplies would be to pump petroleum directly onto cropland and light it up. Subsidizing corn to the detriment of other foods’ production and pricing is harmful enough, but subsidizing corn that – after it’s grown through the extensive use of land, water, and fertilizer – is going to get refined – at high energy cost – into a fuel that burns less energetically than gasoline, so you can use it to cut gasoline… can you even do a cost-benefit analysis for something that has no benefits? It’s bad energy policy, bad environmental policy, bad economic policy, and bad food policy.

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