Turning drain water into renewable, profitable source of energy
Photo: Ido Erez
For decades we have been using notebooks said to be produced from "woodless paper". A new Israeli invention is making it possible to produce "scentless paper" – from drain water.
Dr. Refael Aharon of Applied CleanTech has developed a system capable of turning stinking sewage into a renewable and profitable source of energy. How?
About 99.9% of the drainage which comes out of our homes and flows through pipes is water. The remaining 10% are comprised of solid substances which can be used for the production of cellulose, which is used to produce paper.
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These substances include food leftovers, used toilet paper and fiber from clothes which flow into the sewage with the laundry water.
So far, these solid substances have been a difficult and expensive nuisance. The process of cleaning the large amounts of processed waste remaining after the wastewater filtration require a lot of money, which pushes up our water tariffs.
Aharon says the process he developed reduces half of the solid substances in the sewage. As a result, the factory needs less electricity and chemicals to purify water – and the money saved may eventually reduce our water bills.
So how does one turn drain water into paper? After the solid substances are filtered and separated from the wastewater, they undergo a drying and purification process to remove bacteria.
The remaining substance, which includes large amounts of cellulose, can be sold to paper manufacturers. Thanks to the system, which has already been installed in one of the sewage purification facilities in southern Israel, paper has already been produced at much lower costs than regular recycled paper.
Aharon had business cards created from the "sewage paper". He says it is possible to produce paper at the size and thickness required for any purpose. "There's no reason not to recycle sewage substances, just like we recycle plastic."