China Generating Energy, Revenue from Human Waste

By: | March 2nd, 2015

Waste Energy is Sustainable

Pearl S. Buck grew up in China in the early 20th century and wrote “The Good Earth” in which she discussed Chinese use of human waste for fertilizer, a.k.a. “night soil.” She opined that the West could learn much from the Chinese in this regard and believed a misguided and naïve Puritanism prevented Westerners from benefiting from what should be a natural practice.

A century later, the Chinese are continuing to use human waste as fertilizer and also to produce energy, making “night soil” very valuable. Chinese scientists are also studying ways in which fecal sludge can be combined with organic solid waste in urban areas, for example from restaurants, as well as animal wastes, for example from cows, to produce energy. For the Chinese, using fecal sludge and other wastes as resources is a practical matter as its huge population produces a lot of it. But Western countries, like England, are starting to catch on.

In Manchester, England, the United Utilities Group, PLC, the country’s largest publicly traded water company, recycles the sludge of 1.2 million people to power 25,000 homes. In Germany, a company is mining phosphorus from sewage.

In an article by Bloomberg, “China is Turning Fecal Sludge into Black Gold,” Professor Shu Ming Mang at the University of Science and Technology Beijing notes that 40 million farm homes in China have holding tanks for human and animal waste which is converted to liquid fertilizer for farms.

Re-Inventing the Toilet & Fecal Sludge Management

The International Water Association (IWA) sponsors an annual conference on Water in Wastewater Technologies. This year’s event will take place in Hong Kong from May 30 to June 3, 2015. Scientists and engineers are attempting to create new technologies that can be scaled up to improve the sanitation of cities and industries.

The Gates Foundation will present a portfolio of leading solutions, including the reinvented toilet and fecal sludge processing technology, and is among those organizations that are promoting the use of these technologies, including urban wastewater collection systems, across the world.

Related articles on IndustryTap:

References and related content:

David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

More articles from Industry Tap...