When sewage is treated at a wastewater treatment facility, biosolids are the byproduct. After being separated from the water, biosolids are usually sent to a landfill or incinerated. That doesn't mean that they're without value, however. Vitruvian Energy has created a process to make a usable fuel out of this human waste product, and while the source is pretty gross, it is undeniably abundant, and the results are much cleaner.
In a process that Vitruvian Energy claims is energy efficient, biosolids are femented and introduced to a type of bacteria to create PHA plastic. Reacting the PHA with ethanol creates the ethyl-3-ethoxybutyrate (EEB) biofuel. Vitruvian says EEB can be blended up to 20 percent with gasoline or diesel without any engine modifications. This lowers the carbon footprint of the fuel it's blended into, and serves to oxygenate diesel, leading to fewer harmful emissions. EEB can also be made using other organic waste products, such as corn stover, rice straw and distillers grains.
EEB can be made for less than $4 a gallon.
EEB can be made for less than $4 a gallon and isn't subject to the maddening market fluctuations and international politics of fossil fuels. Furthermore, EEB's carbon footprint is 70 percent less than that of fossil fuels. Vitruvian also sees potential for EEB to be used on its own to power vehicles or burned to produce electricity for the grid.
So far, Vitruvian Energy has used grants from the California Energy Commission and National Science Foundation to develop EEB, and has tested the fuel in a Pontiac Solstice at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Now, Vitruvian is wants to test EEB on a larger scale in the real world in order to prove EEB's viability to interested parties in the wastewater treatment industry. In an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, Vitruvian Energy hopes to raise $200,000 to build a prototype EEB production line and to run a test vehicle for a year on an EEB-diesel blend on the streets of Seattle. Donors can score some interesting perks such as shirts and bumper stickers that say "Get Clean with Poopaline." Learn more about EEB in the video and press release below.