The Other I

August 8, 2010

The golden ring

Filed under: Intriguing Science,Uncategorized — theotheri @ 4:12 pm

A team of American researchers in Oregon have figured out how to make electricity out of raw sewage.  They started by adding a smattering of gold particles to the sewage along with bacteria that release electrons that creates electricity.  If it works, it would have an immediate impact on agriculture, and be especially valuable in the Third World where untreated sewage often causes disease.

The technology already works in a laboratory, but there are several problems they have to work out before this process can be implemented on an industrial scale.  One is the cost of gold – even the small smatterings of it that are required to make the process work fast enough to be viable.  At this moment, it looks as if iron might speed up the process just as well, and would produce electricity at a competitive cost in today’s market.   The cathode chamber also needs to be improved, and choosing the best microbial species to do the job requires more study.

A little less ambitiously, we are exploring the option of putting photo voltaic solar panels on our roof to generate electricity.  Right now it looks as if with the government subsidy on offer, the process would pay for itself in about eight years.  At that point, our electricity would essentially be free, and anything we don’t use would go back into the grid, generating a small income of its own.

The biggest problem we have is that we might have to cut down an absolutely gorgeous blue spruce about 100 feet tall.  Unfortunately, is hogging the sun that the panels need.

I don’t know if we can bring ourselves to do it.

We’ll decide in a month or so.

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