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From sewage and compost to viable fuel

An Environmental Problem 

To halt climate change, the UN has said “unprecedented change” will be required in all aspects of society , both on a social and on a global level 

Fossil fuels on our environment is a big deal!

The European Commision has pledged that the EU will cut greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Our future and the future of our grandchildren are dependent on us to make this change 

A solution – faecal fuel 

Spanish company Ingelia has developed a biocarbon fuel called biochar – made using sewage, as a much cleaner energy source to traditional coal.

Biochar burns like coal but the actual production is carbon neutral – and it has a considerably lower production of harmful wastes such as nitrogen, sulfur, and chlorine.

By turning organic waste into a biocarbon that doesn’t emit CO2 or other pollutants when produced, Ingelia may have just found a much more sustainable energy source than traditional coal.

How they do it 

Ingelia treats waste matter such as sewage with high pressure and heat to produce its biochar fuel.

“We use the organic collection of trash, the organic portion of municipal waste, sewage from treatment plants, and even waste from gardening. We take this waste and unfer specific pressure and temperature conditions, 20 bars and 200ºC, we dehydrate the organic matter and siphon off the humid matter in liquid form,” explained the CEO Maria  Hernandez 

 “In other words, we concentrate 95% of the carbon in the waste.”

During Ingelia’s thermochemical conversion process (known as hydrothermal carbonisation), harmful wastes such as nitrogen, sulfur, and chlorine are, for the most part, siphoned off in the residual liquid.

The result, after an eight-hour process, is a solid, dry, cylindrical material that could replace fossil-derived carbon fuel.

The bad smells produced as a byproduct of the composting process are avoided by containing the treatment of the waste matter in a closed tank, allowing plants to be situated closer to population centres.

“It has the same calorific value and combustion structure,” said Hernández. She added: “Compared with a standard composting or a biogas plant where the process takes around 30 days, the timescale for our method is as little as eight hours.”

The founder – Maria Hernandez

From small beginnings in Valencia to international expansion. 

Hernández’ determination earned the Ingelia co-founder and CEO a nomination in the Women’s category for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) awards, presented earlier this month at its annual conference in Budapest.

International Expansion 

Ingelia has already outsourced this process to their waste plants in Spain, the UK and Italy. In fact, Italy’s largest sewage manager has also implemented the process in their Tuscany plant where they treat 80,000 tons of sewage per year and the Belgian town of Oostende too is set to have a plant that treats 20,000 tons of organic waste matter with four reactors.

Hernández said their cleaner fuel could replace 220,000 tons of coal per year by 2022.


Last year the company had sales  of $2.29 million and is looking to raise $3.44 million.

Projections are  $28.4 million in turnover next year and up to $107 million for 2022.

Hernández added that her company is currently in negotiations with the majority of waste management companies in Spain.

Uses of Biochar 

It could be used to work batteries, or even to produce specific materials such as biopolymers, possibly for producing plastics or perhaps as substitutes for peat in soil

Environmental Impact

Maria enthusiastically shares with us her 2022 vision

“With our process, by 2022 we’d be able to replace 220,000 tons of coal per year and avoid the emission of half a million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere,” adding that the company was planning to capture 3% of the European waste management market.

Source Business Insider España. Copyright 2018.

Posted on February 2, 2019

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