Government and industry officials in Charles County, Maryland are creating an innovative sewage system that would use sanitized sewage water for cooling and generating power.
Called a closed-loop system, the plan is to pump sewage to treatment stations, than route the treated sewage, known as effluent, to cooling towers and for producing electricity.
The effluent is converted to steam to drive the turbines to generate electricity.
Normally, cooled groundwater is used in cooling towers.
The benefits are twofold. First of all, groundwater would no longer be drawn from the ground. Second, treated sewage wouldn’t be dumped into the Potomac.
The idea is not new, but the size of the system is.
"A big system like this that covers several facilities in volume does not exist," John Reardon, the county’s economic development director said. "Nobody's done anything like this before."
The plan already has two plants on board, and is hoping another will join.
The Maryland Department of Environment has not approved the plan, but is expected to.