How to make natural gas? Flush the toilet, and wait three weeks. At least that’s the plan for homes involved in the Didcot Renewable Gas Project, which will be recycling residents’ waste into renewable natural gas, aka “biogas“.
Gearóid Lane, managing director of communities and new energy at British Gas, said: “This renewable gas project is a real milestone in Britain’s energy history, and will help customers and the environment alike. Renewable gas has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting the UK’s energy needs. Gas from sewage is just one part of a bigger project, which will see us using brewery and food waste and farm slurry to generate gas to heat homes.” [The Guardian]
The renewable gas won’t smell bad or function any differently than the gas already being provided to customers’ homes. This isn’t the first biogas plant in the U.K. or the world, but it is the first facility whose biogas is made directly from human waste and transferred back to those humans’ homes. Most of the other plants run off of agricultural and food waste.
The plant is just a test project, able to provide gas to about 200 homes. But the British government is hopeful that more such projects will help the country reach its goal of 15 percent renewable energy by 2020. Said Martin Baggs, chief executive of the utility company Thames Water:
“Every sewage works in Britain is a potential source of local renewable gas waiting to be put to use.” [BBC News]
Beer: Some people think it’s proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Others value it as a great source of antibiotics—of course, those people lived nearly 1,700 years ago.
For much of the last three decades, anthropologist George Armelagos has been trying to explain how mummies that date from an ancient kingdom in Nubia—the area south of Egypt that’s located in present-day Sudan—got so much of the antibiotic tetracycline in their bones. Since scientists didn’t synthesize antibiotics like that one until the 20th century (and these bones date back to between 350 to 550 A.D.), finding a buildup in ancient bones screams out “contamination.”
Armelagos and his colleagues longed to prove that it wasn’t, and in a study out in American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the team argues that the find is no fluke. Nubians got antibiotics into their systems by drinking beer, and lots of it, and from an early age.
How? Thanks to the help of a kind of bacteria called Streptomyces.
I know, I know—after the flawless execution of the perfect crime, all you want to do is put your feet up at a bar with a patio and savor a cold one. However, a new study out in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that the bottle of Budweiser is just filling your body with incriminating evidence.
It’s no secret that traces of what you consume can end up in your hair (hence hair-based drug tests). The researchers wanted to know if they could find a signature in those traces that would show not just what you’ve been using, but also where it came from. So they traveled to a bunch of different U.S. cities and tested out a few of America’s favorite beverage products—Budweiser, Coke, and bottled water—to see if their chemical fingerprints matched up with the fingerprint of the local water supply.
Researchers found that water samples from 33 cities across the United States could be reliably traced back to their origin based on their isotope ratios. And because the human body breaks down water’s constituent atoms of hydrogen and oxygen to construct the proteins that make hair cells, those cells can preserve the record of a person’s travels [ScienceNOW].