LONDON — When the world’s largest working advanced digestion plant opened last month, it showed the power- hungry process of treating waste in the $360 billion water industry can be self-sufficient in terms of energy use.
The Davyhulme facility that handles the sewage of 1.2 million people in Manchester today can export surplus power to the U.K. grid. It uses waste formerly dumped in the Irish Sea, generating renewable power on a scale no utility has done to date using that method.
The sludge recycling center runs on enough human waste to power 25,000 homes. It was built by Black & Veatch for United Utilities Group Plc, Britain’s largest publicly traded water company. Awarded IChemE’s international prize as “the most innovative green-energy scheme on Earth,” the facility renders waste into what engineers call “black gold.