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Portland’s Sewers May Soon Help Power the City’s Garbage Trucks

“We’re going to be turning poop into power.”

Portland's sewers will now contribute to society.
Portland’s sewers will now contribute to society. Ruth Hartnup/CC BY 2.0

It’s no longer good enough to just be a sewer. As The Oregonian reports, the Portland City Council recently approved a plan that will enable their poop tubes to help power the city—they’re going to build a facility that can turn methane from the city’s human waste into natural gas.

The city’s methane is used to hard work—77 percent of it is already being repurposed at the city’s wastewater treatment plants, where it is converted to electricity and heat. The extra 23 percent, though, is generally burned as waste, which is a carbon-heavy process.

This new facility will turn that extra methane into natural gas, which will be sold to outside parties as an alternative to diesel fuel. This will net money and energy credits for the city. Council members hope at least some of this gas will be purchased by other city departments, and used to power vehicles—garbage trucks, for example.

“We’re going to be turning poop into power,” Commissioner Nick Fish, manager of the Bureau of Environmental Services, told The Oregonian.

A win-win-win, sounds like—not least for those who love goofy government pull quotes.