Poo power: Council converts human waste into energy

Female hand presses button on top of toilet cistern to flush (human waste)
Image: Shutterstock

Logan City Council has opened an innovative new facility that turns human waste into energy and fertiliser.

The $28 million biosolids gasification facility was developed by Logan City Council’s water business Logan Water. The facility, which is the first of its kind in Australia, blasts sewage with extremely high heat to turn it into a product called biochar.

Biochar can be used for a variety of purposes including as a fertiliser for the agricultural industry. It also has potential applications in the building industry.

Related article: Waste biochar could help mitigate climate change

The gasification process destroys chemicals in biosolids such as persistent organic pollutants and micro and nanoplastics.

The project received $6 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.

The gasifier, at the Loganholme Wastewater Treatment Plant (LWWTP), is a centrepiece of council’s drive towards carbon neutrality by the end of this year.

Operational cost savings and carbon credits will return almost $1 million annually to the City of Logan while a new revenue stream will be created from biochar sales. Carbon emissions will be reduced by about 6000 tonnes a year. 

City of Logan Mayor Darren Power said the gasifier has attracted global interest.

“We are the first local government to try something like this in Australia, so its evolution has been keenly watched,” Councillor Power said.

“This innovation will benefit the city and the environment for generations and is just one of many initiatives council has pioneered to drive down carbon emissions and reuse waste.

Related article: Food for thought: Generating clean energy from food waste

“Logan Water is to be congratulated for turning this bold experiment into reality.”

This creates an odourless, charcoal-like biochar. Previously, human waste was transported by trucks from the City of Logan to the Darling Downs to be used as a low-grade fertiliser.

Council is currently in advanced negotiations with a major agriculture company to market the biochar.

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