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Posts Tagged ‘sewage’

Photo: Tokyo Five, via Gwarlingo

Back in the early days of this blog (nearly five years ago), I posted about the imaginative Japanese manhole covers that I had seen at the Gwarlingo website. Now Asakiyume has clued me in to collectable cards made from the designs.

The Japan Times has the story. “The cards will be distributed for free to anyone who wants one at sewage plants and other facilities. Pictures of the manholes will be on one side of the cards, which are roughly business card size, while explanations about their designs will feature on the reverse side.

“The manhole designs differ from area to area, and often feature flowers and animals used as symbols in respective communities, or yuru kyara (local mascots). …

“The manhole cover designs are decided after asking the public for ideas, or through a competition among manufacturers of manhole covers. [Hideto Yamada of the GKP, a group including officials from local governments and the infrastructure ministry’s sewage management department] said he hoped the cards will help lift public interest in the sewage system.”

An even better way, I think, would be create greeting cards and postcards that could be sold widely and sent around the world.

More at the Japan Times, here.

Photo: Remo Camerota, via Gwarlingo
A design for a new drain cover.

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Some Massachusetts river enthusiasts were concerned about the amount of rainwater runoff that goes into the big sewage-treatment plant on Boston’s Deer Island and then out to sea. So they came up with a different concept.

Jon Chesto reports at the Boston Globe, “The massive Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant was once hailed as an environmental victory, one that would revive a then-defiled Boston Harbor while processing sewage for more than 40 cities and towns. But roughly 15 years after the plant’s completion, one local group still isn’t ready to celebrate.

“The Charles River Watershed Association has instead proposed an unusual alternative to the hulking plant: smaller, neighborhood treatment centers that would convert waste water and discarded food into energy. That energy would then be sold to help defray the cost of the projects.

“The nonprofit group’s primary aim in developing the concept was to limit the vast amounts of rainwater and ground water that get sucked into sewer pipes to be washed out to sea via Deer Island, a phenomenon that is harming the Charles River by decreasing its water volume. …

“These plants would first need to attract customers. Some of their business would come from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, which would redirect some of its waste water to the facilities to be processed. More income would come from a food processing business that would rely on large customers such as colleges, hospitals, and big restaurants to ship discarded food to the facilities.

“Like the waste-water residue, the food trash can be placed in an anaerobic digester system that breaks down the organic material and converts it to methane gas to generate electricity. That power could reduce a facility’s operating costs and be sold into the region’s grid. The remnants could be converted into fertilizers.

“ ‘We’re throwing away a lot of potential revenue as if it were waste, as if it were a bad thing,’ [Charles River Watershed executive director Bob] Zimmerman said. ‘It’s only waste water if you waste it.’ ”

More here.

Infographic: David Butler/Globe Staff
Source: Charles River Watershed Association

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Conrad Wilson recently posted an intriguing story at National Public Radio. It’s about a a practical approach to sustainability: converting sewage to energy.

“It turns out,” writes Wilson, “a sewer — the place where a city’s hot showers, dishwashing water and organic matter end up — is a pretty warm place. That heat can generate energy — meaning a city’s sewer system can hold tremendous potential for heating and cooling.

“It’s just that unexpected energy source that Brainerd [Minn.] hopes to exploit.

“Scott Sjolund, technology supervisor for Brainerd Public Utilities, is standing on the corner of 6th Avenue and College Drive in Brainerd, as sewage rushes unseen through underground pipes.

” ‘Everybody heats water up … and all that gets drained down the sewer, and that’s potential energy that could be extracted. That’s part of the equation,’ Sjolund says.

” ‘Actually extracting it in an economical fashion,’ Sjolund says, is the equation’s critical second part.

“The idea for this project comes from Brainerd-based company Hidden Fuels. In 2009, the business partnered with the city and the school district and received a $45,000 grant from the federal stimulus package.

“Hidden Fuels’ Peter Nelson says the first phase of the project involved installing sensors in the city’s sewers. For more than a year, the company and the city measured the temperature and amount of sewage running through the system to create a thermal energy map.

” ‘It shows that there’s a significant amount of energy — literally enough to heat hundreds of homes — within the streets of the city of Brainerd,’ Nelson says.

“Earl Wolleat, director for buildings and grounds with the Brainerd School District, says there’s enough energy running in just one of the sewer pipes to heat the entire high school. That could save tens of thousands of dollars every winter.”

Read more.

Public Utilities’ Scott Sjolund at a sewer site. Photograph: Conrad Wilson

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