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Wastewater Treatment Plant or Gold Mine?


A study at Rice University finds that algae can produce oil in municipal wastewater treatment plants, in addition to treating the wastewater.

No need to rush out to California for gold this time. It could be hiding in your neighborhood municipal wastewater treatment plant. But not the traditional yellow lustrous variety. We’re talking about oil – black gold.

A recent study done by Rice University identified municipal wastewater as a habitat in which oil-rich algae could exist in abundance and flourish. The algae produce a specific type of fatty acids that can be used as biodiesel, as well as achieving 90% nitrate removal and 50% phosphorous removal.

What is even more exciting about this discovery is that it has the potential to convert the energy-sucking, bulky infratstructure that is a municipal wastewater treatment plant into a powerhouse for energy generation. Not only could they produce this renewable biogas, but they also have the potential to create renewable hydrogen, hydrokinetic, solar, and wind energy.

Adaptations to wastewater treatment plants to harvest this energy could offset their current carbon footprint, helping to solve the global issue of resource shortages.

Read more about oil-producing algae in wastewater treatment plants here.


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