Residents of 200 households in Oxfordshire, U.K., are cooking with their own poop. They’re part of a co-operative project aimed at reducing energy costs by recycling household waste into odourless, clean-burning biomethane. The fuel is created by taking waste sludge from treatment tanks and placing it into special “anaerobic digesters” that are filled with a special mixture of bacteria and heated to produce raw gas. This is then sent to a biogas plant, which produces biomethane that’s piped back into homes for heating and cooking. Since most of the infrastructure exists, implementation is relatively cheap, costing less than an estimated $7 million per 500 houses in some circumstances.
British Gas, Scotia Gas and Thames Water are heading the venture, which is expected to help meet an EU requirement that 15 per cent of Britain’s power come from renewable sources in the next 10 years. It’s estimated that the heating demands of 200,000 homes could be met if the waste from every Briton was treated in a similar way. Other companies are also working on such plans, with 500 Manchester homes set to be literally cooking with their own gas by the end of 2011.