London, June 17 (ANI): If a revolutionary project being trialled in Manchester, UK, turns out to be successful, then human sewage may soon power thousands of homes.
According to a report in The Telegraph, the 4.3 million pounds scheme will see enough methane gas from human waste to provide fuel for heating and cooking for up to 5,000 homes by 2011.
The project is the first of its kind in Britain and the biomethane is being hailed as a "fuel for the future" because of its green credentials.
It will be run from Manchester's Davyhulme waste water treatment works, which is Britain's second biggest sewage works, and the gas will be supplied through the local pipeline network.
Further plants are expected to be built in the future, bringing the renewable fuel to hundreds of thousands of British homes.
United Utilities, the energy company behind the scheme, won financial backing from Defra through its Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
"This funding will give the project a huge boost. The people of Manchester will soon be using 'poo power' to heat their homes," said Caroline Ashton, United Utilities biofuels manager.
Biogas is produced when wastewater sludge is broken down by the action of microbes in a process known as 'anaerobic digestion'.
The biogas then needs to be upgraded to biomethane, which is a renewable fuel with similar properties to natural gas.
Biomethane can be safely compressed for use in vehicles or injected into the gas grid.
The gas produced at Davyhulme will also be used to power the utilities firm's sludge tankers and burned to provide electricity to the plant.
"Sewage treatment is a 24-hour process, so there is an endless supply of biogas," Ashton said.
"It is a very valuable resource and it's completely renewable. By harnessing this free energy, we can reduce our fuel bills and reduce our carbon footprint," she added.
"Renewable electricity from sources such as wind power is already available, but this is the first time we will be able to supply renewable gas to consumers," said Janine Freeman, head of Sustainable Gas Group, National Grid.
"Not only are we reusing a waste product, but this is a renewable fuel, so we are helping to meet the country's target of 15 per cent of all our energy coming from renewable sources by 2020," she added. (ANI)