A 130 tonne fatberg blocking a London sewer is to be converted into roughly 10,000 liters of biodiesel, it has been announced.
In a statement on Monday, Thames Water said around one third of the fatberg – a large mass of fat, grease, oil, wet wipes and sanitary products – had been removed from underneath Whitechapel Road, a main thoroughfare in the east of London.
The utility added that the fatberg would help to create enough energy to power 350 of London’s iconic double decker Routemaster buses for one day.
Fatbergs form when people flush unsuitable items down their toilets or pour oils and fats – which set hard and clog pipes when they cool – down their sinks.
Since the beginning of September, high powered jets have been used to break the fatberg down so it could be sucked up from the sewer.
The fatberg will now be taken to a specialist plant where it will be processed with other fats, greases and oils and turned into biodiesel. The fatberg’s other constituent parts – including baby wipes, cotton buds and nappies – will be disposed of. Thames Water said it would work with waste-to-power firm Argent Energy on the project.
“We have a problem with fatbergs, both in sewer networks and at our sewage treatment works,” Alex Saunders, waste network manager at Thames Water, said in a statement.
“Previously, we’ve either extracted the fatberg out of the pipes and sent it to landfill, or broken it down and put it back through the sewage treatment process,” Saunders added.
“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.”