Thames Water, 2OC will deliver power from London's fatbergs

Apr 09, 2013 by Nancy Owano report
Credit: Blue Sky Biofuels

(Phys.org) —From fish and chips to pork pies, some of London's tastiest foods create unappetizing and costly fat and oil buildups in drains. These fatbergs, as they are dubbed, end up in the city sewers system. A fatberg is a hefty clump of congealed fat and cooking oil, but also intertwined with other materials passing through the sewers. Leaders at two companies have a plan that, while not making lemonade out of lemons, will do even better, making energy out of leftover fat. Fat and oil from restaurants and build-ups in drains will find re-use as a result of an ambitious plan, it was announced on Sunday. The grease will be fed into what is claimed to be the world's largest fat-fueled power station, at Beckton in east London, to be run by energy company, 2OC.

Wastewater and water services provider, Thames Water, has signed a 20 year agreement with 2OC. That plant is set to produce 130 Gigawatt hours (GWh) a year of , enough to run 39,000 average-sized homes. (130 GWh is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by 39,394 households in a year based on an average household consumption. Thames Water will buy 75 GWh of this output to run its sewage works and a . Remaining power will be available for the national energy supply grid. Other include oil wastes from food manufacturers, processors and tallow.

Andrew Mercer, chief executive of 2OC, said that when Thames does not need the output, it will be made available to the grid. The power, he said, "will be sourced, generated and used in London by Londoners." Mercer told the BBC that there would be no smoke and no smell. The plant should be up and running by 2015.

Thames water each year removes 80,000 in 109,000km of sewers. Clearing these blockages costs £1 million a month.

Explore further: Intel wireless charging in a bowl coming sooner than later

Related Stories

Britain unveils desalination plant for London reservoirs

Apr 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Britain has brought online a new desalination plant near London capable of providing the city with 150 million gallons (568 million litres) of water per day, should the need arise. At a cost ...

UK town using fuel from human waste

Oct 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A town in Oxfordshire has become the first in the UK to have biomethane gas generated from human waste piped to their homes for gas central heating and cooking.

Egypt's first solar plant to open by year's end

Jun 14, 2010

Egypt will open its first solar energy plant by the end of this year, electricity and energy minister Hassan Yunis said in a report published on Monday on the ministry's website.

Bacteria -- energy producers of the future? (w/ video)

Aug 22, 2011

All of us use water and in the process, a lot of it goes to waste. Whether it goes down drains, sewers or toilets, much of it ends up at a wastewater treatment plant where it undergoes rigorous cleaning before it flows back ...

Recommended for you

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

Sep 19, 2014

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

Sep 19, 2014

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Idealistic Norwegian sun trappers

Sep 19, 2014

The typical Norwegian owner of a solar heating system is a resourceful man in his mid-fifties. He is technically skilled, interested in energy systems, and wants to save money and protect the environment.

User comments : 11

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lurker2358
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2013
Random anomalous American small businesses have been doing things like this for decades.

You get a tanker truck and get contracts to remove cooking oil from all the diners and other restaurants, and whenever they have no space, you just go by and pick it up.

Strain it and process to make bio-diesel or other fuels. My family knew a guy a long time ago who was doing that back in the 80's and 90's.

Economies of scales would make it much more profitable, especially in a place as densely populated as a megalopolis.

Of course, if people start eating healthier, the company will lose it's fuel source.
Skepticus
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2013
I thought it is illegal to dump oil into the sewers? In Australia, motor oil dumping is definitely illegal, and almost all supermarkets that produce waste oil from in-store chicken roasting, etc, use tanks and containers for oil and grease removal services.
Telekinetic
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 09, 2013
"some of London's tastiest foods ..."
Is London known for its tasty food?
Lurker2358
4 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2013
I thought it is illegal to dump oil into the sewers? In Australia, motor oil dumping is definitely illegal, and almost all supermarkets that produce waste oil from in-store chicken roasting, etc, use tanks and containers for oil and grease removal services.


It's only illegal if you get caught?

Lol.

no seriously, you don't actually think people follow the law eh?

Cops only catch people like obvious murderers, rapists, grand theft, bank robberies, and obvious drug users, usually following an accident or domestic violence report.

Most "laws" are broken left and right, without much notice being given. It's like fire ants, if you put out one mound, another just comes right back a few yards away.
ab3a
not rated yet Apr 09, 2013
I work at a water and sewer utility. No matter how much you attempt to keep grease, fats, and oils from the sewer system, they'll eventually build up --from feces, if nothing else.

The end result is a fairly hard, chunky substance that builds up and will eventually clog pipes in much the same way as it would do to your arteries. We have jet rodding crews who scour these pipes regularly so that flow doesn't back up in to homes and businesses.

That said, even if this stuff was collected from every food business in the city, I have difficulty believing that anyone can get to 130 Gigawatt hours per year even on the scale of a city such as London.
Infiniteloop
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2013
In other news, in direct consequence of having read this story, I have decided to have salad for dinner tonight.
Lurker2358
3 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2013
That said, even if this stuff was collected from every food business in the city, I have difficulty believing that anyone can get to 130 Gigawatt hours per year even on the scale of a city such as London.


Discarded cooking oil has far more Calories (energy) than the food value of the food it's used to cook.

Calorie = 1000 calorie.

256 "servings" * 120 Calories/serving = 30,720 Calories.

30,720Calorie * 4200Joule/Calorie = 129,024,000Joules.

This is about the same as a gallon of gasoline.

Considering something like 30% efficiency, you should be able to get the needed energy with just 12 million gallons of oil, which is probably ridiculously easy for a city the size of London.

Turn shitty city oil into energy.

Oh yeah, this energy is "renewable", but it's not carbon neutral.

...if every shitty city just cleaned up their shit, the energy problem would probably go away.
ab3a
not rated yet Apr 10, 2013
Assume you could collect about 33,000 liters of waste oil in a city every day (given typical levels of restaurant grease/oils/fat recovery). With one liter of biodiesel you'd have 34 MJ/liter which is about 9.4 kWh. So, 9.4 kWh * 30% * 33,000 --I'll be gracious and suggest about 100 kWh per day.

160 GWh/ 365 is about 438 MWh per day. Something isn't adding up here.

Remember, we're discussing what is recoverable, not what is theoretically there.
Lurker2358
not rated yet Apr 10, 2013
Something isn't adding up here.


Your math is wrong.

9.4kWh * 30% * 33,000 = 93,060kWh = 93.06mWh

93.06mWh * 365 = 33.966gWh per year.

Your assumption of 33,000 liters per day is probably under-estimating the amount of fats and oils available.

There's other fats and oils besides just cooking oils.

When you cook meats any way other than frying, the meat has natural animal fats in it which cook out, and this congeals much more than vegetable, olive, or peanut oils.

If everyone eats the recommended 3oz of meat per day (which is low) and we assume 10% loss to fats, even from "lean" cuts, then I figured, converting to metric, we can get 68,000kg of fat PER DAY just from what cooks out of the meat in a recommended diet. I bet Londoners eat more than 3oz of meat per day on average, since London has a high obesity rate...

It looks like it should be easily within the realm of possible.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Apr 10, 2013
some of London's tastiest foods ..."

Is London known for its tasty food?

"London's tastiest" is a relative term. (Though you can get very good indian and pakistani cuisine, there)

I have difficulty believing that anyone can get to 130 Gigawatt hours per year even on the scale of a city such as London.

They fry up chocolate bars in batter there. Seriously.

while not making lemonade out of lemons

Silly Brits. Lemons are made for burning someone's house down.
FMA
not rated yet Apr 14, 2013
There are some companies just convert the cooking oil to bio-diesel, by chemical means, all over the world.

Some people in China even recycle it back to the dinner tables, very disgusting!!!