Chemists’ Podcast Features Biodiesel from Sewage

John Davis

A U. S. Environmental Protection Agency researcher says that biodiesel can be made from municipal sewage sludge that would cost about the same as diesel made from non-renewable petroleum.

In the latest episode of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) podcast series, “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions,”
the EPA’s David M. Kargbo says sewage treatment plants could use microorganisms that produce higher amounts of oil … up to 10 billion gallons of biodiesel, more than three times the nation’s current biodiesel production capacity:

Kargbo points out in the podcast that demand for biodiesel has led to the search for cost-effective biodiesel feedstocks, or raw materials. Soybeans, sunflower seeds and other food crops have been used as raw materials but are expensive. Sewage sludge is an attractive alternative feedstock — the United States alone produces about seven million tons of it each year. Sludge is a good source of raw materials for biodiesel.

Kargbo’s results appear in ACS’ Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly journal: “Biodiesel Production from Municipal Sewage Sludges.”

The free podcast is available at iTunes and from ACS at

Biodiesel, Research