November 15, 2006

Conservation: Technology would heat mansion using energy from waste pipes How many toilet flushes does it take to power a light bulb? Salt Lake City is embarking on a pilot project that would heat and cool a private business by using water warmed and chilled by a sewer line.
  • He initially wanted to use the city's culinary system, This is very interesting also, I'd like to read how he planned to do this.
  • There's absolutely no reason that this story should be interesting, but it is. After all, sewage pipes sound like a perfectly adequate source of heat, and it makes sense that they be utilized to the fullest. However, the fact that this idea, despite millenia of indoor plumbing, is being advertised as new suggests that we as a society think otherwise. To actually USE something that is associated with, you know, doody is certain to cause many people discomfort. Why? It seems to me that there's a pardigmatic view in play here. According to this view, humans produce two things: material with positive, practical benefit; and "waste". By definition, "waste" has no benefit and should therefore be eliminated, disposed of, hidden away, and reviled. It is, in fact, taboo to suggest otherwise. You don't shit where you eat, and you certainly don't heat your pipes with it! I wonder if this view is escapable. If this idea proves practical, will it go anywhere? Or will people classify the energy as untouchable and avoid it?
  • Interesting idea.
  • I've worked on Kompogas plants in Switzerland plants which use "waste" to generate methane anaerobically, and there are also ways to use cool water from the aquifer to cool buildings, then reinjecting the warmed water back into the ground. UK Southern Water compresses "solid waste" into "sludge cake" which is a good fertiliser after fermenting to kill certain bacteria. They also dry it completely into granules which resemble instant coffee. A good idea is to use heat reclaimed from air conditioning systems in gym workout rooms to heat the gym showers! Lots of good stuff happening in these areas.