Back in September 2010 I had written an article about how researchers at Kettering University developed an invention to use poop and urine to create hydrogen gas. In August 2011, I had talked about Fountain Valley, California doing the same thing. And, yes, it seems a little disgusting, too.
Now the Japanese have invented a similar device that will take sewage sludge (poop, urine, and other stuff) and churn this into large amounts of hydrogen gas. And this is no small deal.
According to EnviroTech Online, “The group is targeting the conversion of biomass sewage sludge into hydrogen on a commercial scale, using the Japan Blue Energy Company’s (JBEC) Blue Tower technology, within three years.
“While past tests have shown the technology is capable of converting sludge into gas with a high hydrogen concentration, this has only been on a small scale.
“Tests run at the verification plant will be used to develop a methodology and production model for use on a commercial scale … The Blue Tower process uses alumina balls to heat the biomass material – such as sewage sludge. This generates biogases, which are heated once again by the balls to produce a gas with a higher hydrogen concentration.
“Because the balls are so effective in this process, it prevents common problems associated with this kind of procedure, such as blockage caused by tar.”
This commercial hydrogen production solution is supposed to online by 2015 which will coincide with the expected commercial rollout of hydrogen cars by all of the major automakers.
According to the U. S. Energy Information Administration, Japan is the “world’s largest importer of LNG” or liquefied natural gas. And of course most of the hydrogen produced today comes from steam reforming natural gas. So, Japan has a chance to reduce its energy dependence upon importing foreign fossil fuels by using its homegrown resource to produce hydrogen. This would be another step in the right direction for the Japanese.