Eccentric energy: Poo is powerful
Welcome to our latest instalment of Eccentric energy, where we explore the weird and wonderful ideas behind electricity in the modern world.
The power of poo
At Haven Power, we have customers that use anaerobic digestors to treat their sewage waste. Businesses including United Utilities and Thames Water waste do this on a massive scale to produce biogas, which fuels a combined heat and power (CHP) unit. The CHP generates electricity and heat for use elsewhere in the business.
Companies can also use the output from their large-scale anaerobic digestors as fertilizer (for sale, or use across the business) or burn it to create even more energy. In fact, it’s an ideal way to use waste as a means of self-generating electricity and, potentially, as another source of income.
Sucking up the smog
While it’s no secret that the pollution in major cities is a significant contributor to global warming, the good news is that new innovations are tackling this global problem. Part of a series of urban inventions from Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde, the Smog Free Tower in Bejing is essentially a smog vacuum cleaner.
Using only 1170 watts of green electricity, the 7-meter tower cleans 30.000 m3 of polluted air every hour to produce clean air in public spaces. The smog free tower is a local solution that both China and Poland have successfully implemented.
A fishy tale
We’ve all heard of electric eels, but it’s astounding to learn that a single eel can produce 400 V of electrical discharge. The fish uses this ability to defend itself against predators and to hunt smaller fish, and as a radar system (to compensate for its blindness).
And now humans are harnessing eel power, with a Japanese aquarium managing to light up a Christmas tree! Although there are no reports yet of powering anything larger, it may be that one day we’ll be able to “scale up” and use these fish to heat our homes and offices.