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Dirty ‘Fatbergs’ In London Sewers Could Produce Clean Energy

Giant fatberg in London sewer

You may have already seen a story going around the internet about the biggest “fatberg” ever discovered in a London sewer because, you know, it’s just too disgusting not to see for yourself, right?

Said fatbergs are huge collections of oil, grease, and fat (yeah, eww) that are apparently getting way out of hand in London sewers. They are buildups from many years of Londoners flushing items and substances down their drains that are not meant to go down there, such as wet wipes. The problem is that fat clings to wipes, said Thames Water media relations manager Simon Evans, talking to Atlantic Cities, so “You can reach into the fat and you can pull out a wet wipe and it will be sturdy” (shudder).

Here’s the thing. I’m thinking that if they are in London sewers, they are most probably in your city’s sewers too. Wet wipes are popular all over these days. So What can be done, apart from spending a lot of time and effort blasting the massive structures apart with high-pressure water hoses?

Well, National Geographic has pointed out a possible solution. It’s questionable how convenient it would be, but because the massive globs are made of dense fats and oils, and are highly caloric, they would be good for producing energy. It has been estimated that removing the fatbergs and burning them in a turbine could produce over 130 gigawatts of power annually. That’s enough power to supply about 40,000 London homes. Of course, a much more sustainable approach might be to start a campaign to educate people about the underground perils of flushing the unflushable.

Now, here’s a lovely video to really gross you out. Prepare thyself.

Image: Thames Water

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