South Korean researchers have developed a new way to convert waste into a useful resource by sourcing biodiesel from sewage sludge. Biodiesel can fuel existing diesel engines- it’s benefits range from causing less pollution to its renewable resource source. However, it is usually expensive to produce due to the cost of raw materials like refined soybean or rapeseed oil.
Eilhann Kwon and his team from the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology found a new way to extract lipids (the compounds used to make biodiesel) using sludge at a local wastewater treatment plant. This method is a lot cheaper and the sludge was found to be a rich source of lipids. Chemical & Engineering News reports that each liter of lipids that the researchers extracted from sludge cost just 3 cents, while previously published data shows each liter from soybeans costs 80 cents.
Will sewage one day fuel our engines?