Last week, a giant "fatberg" was found in the sewers underneath London. It’s 250 meters (820 feet) long and weighs 130 tonnes (286,600 pounds), and is made primarily of congealed fat from human waste, condoms, sanitary products, and other items that don't break down in the toilet when you flush.
It has, of course, been nicknamed Piers.
You might think that there's not much hope left for such a blob, and there's no way that it could be repurposed for the good of humanity. However, unlike the actual Piers, that isn't the case. Britain's largest fatberg is now going to be turned into incredibly useful biofuel – enough to power 350 London buses for an entire day.
The fatberg, which we calculated last week to be as heavy as 19 adult African elephants or 878 sumo wrestlers, will be transferred to a plant where its fat and grease will be transformed into biodiesel.
“It may be a monster," Alex Saunders, Thames Water waste network manager, said in a statement, "but the Whitechapel fatberg deserves a second chance.
“We’ve therefore teamed up with leading waste to power firm Argent Energy to transform what was once an evil, gut-wrenching, rancid blob into pure green fuel."
“It’s the perfect solution for the environment and our customers as we work towards our target to self-generate 33 percent of the electricity we use from renewable sources by 2020."
“It also means the Whitechapel fatberg will get a new lease of life as renewable, biodegradable fuel powering an engine instead of causing the misery of sewer flooding.”
Thames Water employee approaches the fatberg in horror movie-like footage.
Since Thames Water began work breaking down the fatberg, tanker loads have been broken apart and taken from Whitechapel Road sewer to the plant for processing.
Other waste materials – including diapers, baby wipes, and more "exotic" waste – are disposed of properly (i.e. not flushed). That was what helped cause the fatberg problem in the first place.
Mr Saunders said that fatbergs are a big problem in the sewer networks of Britain, and previously they have been broken down and sent to landfill or put back through the sewage treatment process. This one will get a far better end, when it is used to produce enough energy for a bus for almost a year.
"Even though they are our worst enemy, and we want them dead completely, bringing fatbergs back to life when we do find them in the form of biodiesel is a far better solution for everyone.”