The recent growth in fatbergs in our city sewers is all too common. These giant balls of solidified fat and grease block the sewers and can take weeks to clear with high pressure water jets. These disgusting lumps of stinking mass are created by cooking oil being poured down the drain and wet wipes being used as toilet paper.
‘Thames Water says it has to clear nearly 40,000 blockages a year caused by fat and sanitary wipes being wrongly put down drains by restaurants and households…The wipes break down and collect on joints and then the fat congeals. Then more fat builds up’ (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/06/fatberg-london-sewer-grease-blockage)
Some of these fatbergs can grow to the size of a bus and fill the sewer, so if they are not dealt with, raw sewage will begin to pour into our streets. However, in a recent development this waste fat is now being collected to be used as renewable energy. This environmentally friendly idea is being developed by Thames water and Argent energy, and will involve extracting the fatbergs from the sewer and taking them to a specialist treatment plant, where they can then be converted into a bio-diesel.
‘Describing the scheme was a ‘no-brainer’, Simon Brum, strategic recycling manager at Thames Water said, we have a problem with fatbergs, both in sewer networks and at sewage treatment centres. Previously, what we’ve done is either extract the fatberg out of the pipes and send to landfill, or break it down and put it back through the system. Now we’re looking to see if we can use fatbergs in a clever way, and we’re working alongside Argent to do that. The project will run alongside the company’s ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ campaign, which aims to prevent fatbergs building up in the sewers in the first place’. (https://www.waterbriefing.org/home/technology-focus/item/13897-thames-water-investigates-transforming-fatbergs-into-energy)
It’s hoped that long term this type of recycling of fats will produce bio-diesel that can be used to power buses in the Thames Water area.
So, it seems Fatbergs, although foul in nature, could be a new fuel in the future!
For more innovative engineering options for effluent and waste water treatment, contact us at Clearwater Technology on tel.08000 937 936
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