Austin Wang, a high school student from British Columbia in Canada is working on an experiment to turn one billion liters of wastewater that gets flushed down toilets and sent down sink drains every day into electricity.
The 18-year old found a way to genetically modify microorganisms that can clean the wastewater and probably will generate electricity at the same time.
As Wang expresses love in science, he had experimenting with hydrogen fuel cells in Grade 8 before he decided to switch paths and work with microbial fuel cells — devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
In Grade 9, Wang started working with microbial fuel cells and said that his research could be used commercially to generate power from sewage.
Wang conducted his experiments in University of British Columbia biology labs with mentoring from two professors as well as help from PhD students, he tried to come up with a new way to solve the perplexing puzzle.
“Canadians are extremely wasteful,” says the 18-year-old who loves to play basketball and the piano. “On average, we’re worse than Americans.” Wang said.
He added that those fuel cells can be used to turn sewage waste into a massive power source.
If proven effective, the method could possibly generate of up to 600 gigawatts of energy from waste biomass.
“If we get efficiencies high enough, it’s theoretically achievable,” Wang said.
An average household in the province uses around 900 kilowatt-hours per month, estimates BC Hydro.