Two engineers at Stanford University have succeeded in utilizing rocket engines to defuse emissions from wastewater treatment plants and help them generate their own power. It’s very advantageous for the third-world countries that usually have limited power grids. The researchers hope that their process – when further developed – could help in extracting energy from nitrate-contaminated groundwater beneath fertilized agricultural fields.
As of now, the duo makes use of anaerobic N2O-producing bacteria for decomposing the organic material present in sludge. Other anaerobic microbes also feed on the same culture and release methane gas. The gas, thus produced, powers the plant. Since N2O is a greenhouse gas, clean-burning rocket thrusters use it for propulsion. The rocket thruster could consume any amount of nitrous oxide produced at a typical plant. When you mix the heat produced by that thrust with the methane gas, it becomes fuel for the plant.