Energy Could be Made from Human Waste

A $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been made for turning human excrement and urine into methane gas, heat and electricity. Similar technology already exists, but the Calgary researchers said it has not been used in an integrated way. Actually, NASA showed an interest in converting human waste into electricity at least seven years ago due to an estimate that a two-year trip to Mars would generate about six tons of human waste, and the current practice is to ship it back to Earth. They discovered that the bacteria family Geobacter have the ability to consume organic waste and transfer electrons into metal, meaning they might be used to generate electricity. NASA was investigating the use of waste, the bacteria, and a new type of fuel cell. As much as fifty percent of the energy in excrement is carried over from when it was food. It sounds like the Canadian researchers are more focused on making a biodigester which digests organic matter to create methane gas that can be burned to make electricity.

This type of biodigester was being built a year ago in a New York town. Converting to electricity would obviously be another source of power, but it would also help reduce their costs for dealing with solid waste.

Another form of such conversion is the Loowatt, which uses waterless toilets to collect human waste in order to store it temporarily, before transfer to a biogas unit does the conversion to methane gas. Loowatt has some cute cartoons depicting this new energy cycle. Human culture generates a gigantic amount of bio waste that is not used for much that is beneficial. For example, each year in San Antonio about 140,000 tons of biosolids are created. That is enough to fill 1,250 tanker trucks per day with natural gas. By using a vendor they could collect and convert their biosolids and then sell gas for about $250,000 per year.

Image Credit: Jean-Paul Grandmot

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Amanda S.
Amanda S.4 years ago

Not only waste matters from humans but as well as from animals. I believe it's a great idea. Definitely, a car cannot be run on waste matter, so the term “poo-powered cars” is sort of misleading. Rather, human and other animal waste contains biogas, very similar to natural fuel, which can be captured, refined and used as a fuel for vehicles, just like natural gasoline can be. Indeed, this Poo-powered cars have a different kind of gas in the tank.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

There is no reason it would not work they make electricity from cow manure.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Michael, I reply "in kind". If you HAD been polite and not gone off on rants about illigal aliens, you would have been responded to 100% politely, but you are the one who started off with snarky, sarcastic remarks addressed solely to ME and implied I was too ignorant to understand the topic, and then went on to ridicule Americans, in general as being undeducated, and stupid, far below YOUR I.Q. level. If you don't want to be treated with disrespect, then show respect yourself. See, your once again SNARKY implication that I'm suffering from "personal issues" is rude and uncivil. Do NOT address you again? Hmmm, seems that is exactly what I suggested to you, and since you are NOT a Care.2 moderator, it's not your place to order me around as to what or what not to post, nor when. How IS the air "up there"?

Michael C.
Michael C5 years ago

Diane, You ask me a question, i merely responded in politeness, i did not realize you were suffering from personal issues that keep you from retaining some sense of control.

Please, Do not address me again, i find any dialog with you quite embarrassing.

I apologies the the other readers, this was uncalled for.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Michael, I asked that you refrain from the illegal alien B.S. several times, at least in this discussion and patronized you by responding to one more of your rants, and for the last time, I'll add this.......wars for land have gone on since the beginning of time. Your arguement that illegals are justified sneaking across a border long established to go "home" is about as asinine as it would be if the Briitish threw out every person who had ties to Germany or let's see, how about the Irish and Scottish starting in again, blowing each other up? Dragging Iraq into it is equally ridiculous. Mixing apples with oranges (or worse).

Once more, and for the last time, stay on topic. Take your immigration B.S. and hatred to an apprpriate forum. This one is about converting waste to energy. I won't respond to your sarcasm and diversion tactics again, and they WILL be flagged as "inappropriate". I've tried to be polite, but it's been to no avail. You seem to want to start another war. Go find another place to plant your soapbox.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

For crying out loud, Michael..........GET OVER IT! Nobody "stole" California, or Texas. Wars for land have been wages for as long as humans have been on this earth. Let's see, if you're going to claim "foul", why not blame Spain for sending conqauistadors to Mexico and stealing the land from the natives (Mayans, Aztecs, etc.)? YES, you bore me. Bull-headed, narrow-minded and pompous people full of themselves usually do bore me. I'm not "historically impaired" at all, just choose to live in the 21st century, since I have no control over what went on 300 (or more) years ago. It's also irrelevant to this topic.

P.S. You still didn't answer the question (logically)........WHY is this country so attractive to those who want to sneak in ILLEGALLY if it's such a backwards & ignorant place to be? Hmmm, of course one can also ask why is it that U.S. citizens aren't running to Mexico if it's "superior"? I think the answer is obvious. They'd end up lost in a Mexican jail forever.

Michael C.
Michael C5 years ago

Diane L, Sorry, i could not answer your question until now, busy with all the "Science Stuff", didn't want to bore you.
Now, what was it you asked, oh, yes, "why do so many Mexicans find my country so attractive?"

Well, Diane L, you see lawyers a have an old saying, "never ask a question that you don't already have that answer for".

I am always willing to help those historically impaired persons, most of America is.

Here is your answer, your country stole by force California, Arizona, New Mexico, parts of Colorado, Texas and more.
Your country has invaded Mexico on several occasions. Don't use the Alamo, as an excuse, that was in 1836, Texas wasn't part of the US until 1845 and it is the Rio Bravo, not the Rio Grande.

To better answer your question, i had to turn to a American Indian, they are quite familiar with the ways of the white man, speaking with forked tongue.

But he told me that i should consult an Iraqi or possibly an Afghani, they are more familiar with recent history.

Possibly, they are just going home, to claim what is rightfully theirs.

Thanks Diane L, i learned a lot from you, today.

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

Rachel, there is a landfill near where I used to live about 40 years ago that was closed down and then "capped" to allow methane gas to escape to prevent explosions.....according to what was said. At the time, I don't recall if there was much being done to develop alternative energy sources. I drive by there sometimes and notice it has grown over with grass, but the "vents" are still there and nothing is being done that is noticeable, anyway, to convert the gas to something usuable. I know it can be done, and some of the vehicles used by local utilities have been modified to run on methane. I wondered years ago, IF methane is explosive, and burns, then why CAN'T they use it to provide heat?

Same with "poo". I know that my pile of horse manure creates a lot of heat. One only hs to go outside on a cold day and see "steam" coming up from it. That's what converts it eventually to great compost.

Just makes sense that most waste can be used for "something" besides pollution.

Rachel R.
Rachel R5 years ago

Biogas from poo! Such a great idea, parts of china are doing it already. It can be decentralised (local) which means you loose less of the power. You can also use biogas from green (food waste) and collect gas from landfill. All good!

Diane L.
Diane L5 years ago

DANGED character counter STILL not working! .......why is my country so attractive to Mexicans? Why do they not want to stay in Mexico? Could it be that Mexico doesn't support their own citizens? WHO forces them to be crowded into closed vans/trucks or stuffed in cr trunks to sneak cross the border, and who is responsible for their deaths? My guess, based on years of personal exposure to this situation and what is known facts is that it's the mexican drug cartels. They're the only ones who profit from human trafficking. Again, it's a completely different topic, irrelevant to THIS discussion, and if you feel so strongly about it, take it to a different forum........I think Care.2 has a few going on about civil/human rights.

THIS discussion is about the conversion of WASTE into ENERGY. Please stick to that, and try to do so in "laymans" terms. If you don't, nobody is going to pay attention to what you're saying. This is Care.2, NOT the American Journal for Science (made up group, BTW).