London’s sewer-dwelling ‘fatberg’ will be converted into biofuel

September 20, 2017 by  
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IT’s not the only monster lurking in the sewers. Beneath the streets of London lies the now-notorious “fatberg,” a congealed mass of grease, oil, wet wipes and sanitary products that weighs as much as 11 double-decker buses. Thames Water Utilities has confirmed that the 820-foot-long fatberg will be removed from its subterranean lair and converted into biofuel . “It may be a monster, but the Whitechapel fatberg deserves a second chance,” said Thames Water waste network manager Alex Saunders. “We’ve therefore teamed up with leading waste to power firm Argent Energy to transform what was once an evil, gut-wrenching, rancid blob into pure green fuel.” Fatbergs appear when its necessary ingredients (fat, sanitary products, grease, etc.) are flushed down the toilet or the kitchen sink. They then meet and stick together. The notorious fatberg of London came together under Whitechapel Road and has damaged the area’s Victorian-era sewage system. Only about one-third of the mass has been removed for processing. The Museum of London hopes to receive part of the fatberg, which is heavy and solid, for display. “The discovery of this fatberg highlights one of the many issues London has to deal with as it grows and evolves,” said Sharon Ament, Director at the Museum of London. “Our year-long season, City Now City Future, explores what the future holds for people living in urban environments.” Related: Startup is developing kelp farms in the open ocean to make carbon-neutral biofuel Although this is not the first fatberg discovered, its conversion into fuel is breaking new ground. “It’s the perfect solution for the environment and our customers as we work towards our target to self-generate 33 per cent of the electricity we use from renewable sources by 2020,” said Saunders. “It also means the Whitechapel fatberg will get a new lease of life as renewable, biodegradable fuel powering an engine instead of causing the misery of sewer flooding. Even though they are our worst enemy, and we want them dead completely, bringing fatbergs back to life when we do find them in the form of biodiesel is a far better solution for everyone.” Via Alphr Images via Alphr

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London’s sewer-dwelling ‘fatberg’ will be converted into biofuel

Environmentalists question ‘worrisome’ NYC plan to pour chlorine in sewers

May 3, 2017 by  
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Every year around 20 billion gallons of untreated sewage streams into the waterways of New York City during overwhelming rainfalls. Attempting to stave off health risks, the city has a plan: pour chlorine into sewer pipes. But environmental advocates say the technique is shortsighted and worrisome. The city has attempted a few fixes to the issue, such as new retention tanks and greenery planted to reduce runoff. Now they want to disinfect wastewater inside pipes with chlorine; those pipes lead to three bodies of water in the Bronx and Queens . Riverkeeper staff lawyer Sean Dixon told The New York Times, “They’re using the most worrisome and unproven technique that we have in our toolbox. It’s like they’re grabbing the last straw and using the cheapest and least effective method.” Related: Danish city becomes world’s first to power water treatment plant with sewage Dixon said chlorine sometimes doesn’t even disinfect sewage completely, and doesn’t treat certain toxins. Further, residual chlorine can harm marine life . Chlorination is commonly utilized in wastewater treatment plans, not pipes that run into waterways. New York City Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Ted Timbers said chlorine is “the most widely used disinfectant for water and wastewater treatment in the U.S.” He said the plan had been talked about in meetings with the public, and that chlorination would occur from May to October. Queens College hydrologist Timothy Eaton said chlorine can be effective in controlled settings, but with unpredictable changes in sewage flow, residual chlorine could be left behind and the exact dosage would be tricky to get right. He told The New York Times, “It’s very difficult to predict the amount of water you’re going to get at any period of time. If you overdose it, you’re basically treating Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay like swimming pools .” Via The New York Times Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Tesla executives start mysterious new recycling company

May 3, 2017 by  
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You’d think with battery production commencing at the new Gigafactory and Tesla being the most valuable car company in America, the company’s executives would have their hands full. But it appears Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer Jeffrey Straubel and head of special products Andrew Stevenson have quietly filed documents for a new company aiming to “unlock the value of your materials.” CB Insights found a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing , with Straubel and Stevenson listed as executives on a new company called Redwood Materials . They already have a $2 million investment from an undisclosed investor. Their office is in Redwood City, California, fairly close to Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto. Related: Tesla just announced plans to build up to five Gigafactories Could Tesla be behind the company? According to its scant website, Redwood Materials offers “advanced technology and process development for materials recycling , remanufacturing, and reuse” – and that’s about all we know. A Tesla spokesperson didn’t answer The Verge’s request for clarification. But the publication said it’s quite possible Tesla isn’t involved with Redwood Materials at all. In the past Straubel has invested in companies that aren’t connected to Tesla, like a 2016 investment in energy storage company Axiom Energy. He’s also mentioned an interest in mineral recycling. Last year he said Tesla would recycle electric vehicle batteries and reuse those materials. In a recent March 2017 keynote address, Stevenson mentioned “re-thinking the materials supply chain ” as an area of innovation for the car company. Battery production requires materials like nickel, manganese, cobalt, graphite, copper, and lithium, and it makes sense Tesla would want to obtain reused materials for their batteries as much as possible as they ramp up production from 80,000 cars in 2016 to one million in 2020. The Redwood Materials website offers no other details, although you can enter an email address for updates. Via CB Insights , The Verge and Electrek Images via cchana on Flickr and Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

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