(752b) Energy from Waste: Evaluation of Char from Human Fecal Sludge As a Supplement for Coal

Authors: 
Ward, B. J., University of Colorado at Boulder
Fisher, R. P., University of Colorado
Yacob, T. W., University of Colorado at Boulder
Mahoney, R. B., University of Colorado at Boulder
Weimer, A. W., University of Colorado at Boulder
Linden, K. G., University of Colorado at Boulder

The developing world struggles to keep up with the energy needs of swiftly expanding industrial sectors and the sanitation crisis that accompanies urban migration. Currently one third of the world’s population has no access to adequate sanitation facilities, and in developing urban areas like the cities of sub-saharan Africa, sanitation coverage has decreased since 1990. Meanwhile, many of the developing nations experiencing a sanitation dilemma are producing the vast majority of their energy from coal. Previous research from the University of Colorado at Boulder has shown that human feces-derived char has a similar higher heating value to bituminous coal. Therefore, an opportunity for impact exists at the intersection of sanitation and energy development: the sustainable processing of human waste into useful coal-like products that can supplement fossil coal as a resource for industrial energy and electricity production.

The Sol-Char Sanitation system developed at the University of Colorado at Boulder uses concentrated solar energy to process human waste, neutralizing pathogens and producing charcoal from feces. In this study, the feasibility of using human feces-derived char as an industrial fuel was evaluated. Fecal chars were analyzed using the suite of tests performed on coals and biomass to predict performance in industrial boilers (ultimate and proximate analysis, heating value, ash properties, and trace elemental analysis). Results of analysis informed a holistic economic analysis, life-cycle assessment, and energy balance of feces-derived char. In this presentation, the results of these comprehensive analyses will be discussed along with their implications for the future incorporation of feces-derived fuels into the industrial energy sector.