Grand Junction city vehicles may soon run on human waste | PostIndependent.com

Grand Junction city vehicles may soon run on human waste

Marija B. Vader
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” Fighting the rising cost of gasoline, the city of Grand Junction is turning to human solid waste to fuel the next generation of city vehicles.

Not only does this product cost less than unleaded and diesel fuel, but residents of the Grand Valley offer a never-ending supply of the raw material.

And it doesn’t stink once it’s processed.

One of the byproducts of solid human waste, processed at the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant between Grand Junction and Fruita, is methane gas, said Jay Valentine, purchasing manager for the city.

City staff is now researching the process of how to “scrub” the gas and compress it to form compressed natural gas, or CNG, to fuel vehicles, Valentine said. Cars, diesel vehicles and trucks can be retrofitted to be fueled by CNG.

“Scrubbing” removes the odor from the gas, Valentine said.

The city estimated it would cost about $1.29 a gallon to capture and compress the natural gas, Valentine said.

To build the infrastructure to begin scrubbing and compressing might cost around $3 million.

City staff is now analyzing the capital costs to install the infrastructure and what the payback will be.

One thing’s certain: There’s plenty of raw material.

Persigo produces the methane equivalent of 390 gallons of gasoline a day, or the methane equivalent of 142,350 gallons of gasoline every year ” plenty of gas for the city and others, Valentine said.

“It’s mind boggling. That’s a lot of gas, just generated out of Persigo,” Valentine said. “That provides us a hedge against these oil prices.”

The methane gas is now simply released into the atmosphere, Valentine said.

CNG doesn’t burn as hot as unleaded or diesel, so it doesn’t produce as much energy. As a result, gas mileage suffers, Valentine said.

Other cities using CNG vehicles include Denver and Fresno, Calif.

“We’re for sure moving forward,” Valentine said. “I would say right now definitely it’s going to happen.

“I’m excited about that.”

Reach Marija B. Vader at mvader@gjfreepress.com.


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