Sewage Mining Doesn’t Stink

Sewer - man hole cover

To the average person, the idea of sewage is best left out of sight, out of mind. Applied CleanTech, an Israeli startup focused on recycling raw wastewater into reusable materials, is making sewer water seem sweet. They’ve developed an efficient way to recycle the waste product in a process that saves millions of dollars on operational costs compared to traditional sewer water treatment processes.

Sewage is a valuable resource. In the past, we highlighted a story about a small Minnesota town that utilizes sewer water to provide geothermal energy to surrounding homes and schools. Valuable gases can also be extracted from waste water to generate energy. It’s a smelly job, but it’s certainly worth doing.

Applied CleanTech is one of the few companies around the world willing to put the stench aside and dive right in. The company’s Sewage Recycling System, or SRS, is a first-of-its-kind solution for removing valuable bio-based materials referred to as Recyllose.

Sewage Recycling System SRS

Recyllose is a byproduct of the SRS process. It’s a cellulose-based product that can be used by the paper industry to create recycled paper products, burned for fuel/energy, or used by plastics manufacturers to produce plastic products.

Recyllose bio-based product from sewage mining

Aside from the valuable Recyllose, the SRS process also reduces the amount of sludge generated compared to traditional wastewater treatment methods. Sludge is horrible for the environment and a company’s bottom line. According to Applied CleanTech, their technology can reduce the cost of sewage treatment by 50% by cutting down on sludge.

A Dutch wastewater treatment plant and paper mill recently partnered with Applied CleanTech to take advantage of its SRS. The SRS will reportedly save the paper mill $389 million per year.

There’s great potential for utilizing sewer mining as a way to recycle bio-based materials found in wastewater. This is technology already being used in the U.S., though not to the extent of Applied CleanTech’s SRS.

Wastewater treatment technology has come a long way in the past 30 years. Who knows, 30 years from now sewage mining may be accomplished right at its source – your home!

How Sewage Mining Works: A Presentation at a TED Conference