The power of poop is sometimes an underestimated one. Thanks to projects involving anaerobic digesters and sewage treatment systems, communities around the world can transform their waste into viable renewable energy. Students and scientists alike are turning to poop as a way to produce clean energy, as well as provide power to off the grid communities. Click through to check out some of our favorite projects that utilize this unlikely energy source.
Scientists at the Nanyang Technological University have invented a way to harness poop power at home- with a convenient toilet system. Their No-Mix Vacuum toilet uses suction to reduce water use by 90%, and to gather solid and liquid waste separately. The liquid waste is used for fertilizers, while the solid is sent to a bioreactor and converted to electricity. All in a flush.
Sludge to Power
Deriving power from sewage sludge is a lengthy process, but researchers at the South Korean Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology have developed a short cut. Using sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, the researchers are extracting lipids using heat, which can be converted to biodiesel. Since sewage sludge is plentiful, the process is much cheaper than converting vegetable oils to biofuels.
The town of Chiclana de la Frontera has transformed their sewage treatment plant into a renewable biofuel mega system called All-gas. The sewage flushed by citizens will combine with sunlight and algae, to make biofuel that will run a fleet of 200 cars owned by the town.
Horse Poop to Fuel
Since breaking down corn stalks and grasses for biofuel requires removing lignin and breaking down cellulose, the process can be expensive and complicated to perform. Scientists have discovered that these processes happen naturally in horse manure, thanks to an enzyme living in fungi that thrives within it. That said, using horse poop for biofuel production is exponentially easier, and cheaper than other sources.
Poo Powered Motorcycle
Japanese company TOTO’s Toilet Bike Neo is a three wheeled motorcycle with a 250cc engine, powered by poo. The toilet-top is only for looks though, as the bike is powered solely on animal waste, and can motor on for 180 miles.
Shipping Container Sewage System
Students at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering have converted a shipping container into a portable sewage system for developing and off the grid communities. The system transforms the waste of 1,200 people into usable water and power, with the use of a Supercritical Water Oxidation system using heat and pressure—all contained within a twenty foot shipping container.
These innovative poop projects create clean renewable energy out of total waste, inspiring a future of energy projects that also provide waste management.