Gallery: UK Prepares to Use Human Poop to Power Homes


We talk about poop all the time — pig poop, cow poop and chicken poop — so why not start talking about our own? This stinky taboo might be keeping us from a great energy source. Scientists in the UK are looking into creating a closed loop system using human waste that would provide electricity to the grid. Seems like a great idea to us, but the question is: would you use poop to power your home?

Would you use human waste to power your home?

  • 488 Votes Yes! What a great way to close the loop!
  • 22 Votes No way! That's gross!

View Results

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In some parts of the UK anaerobic digesters are already being used to generate electricity from human refuse, but this summer British Gas in a partnership with Thames Water and Scotia Gas Networks will start piping biomethane from the sewage system — which is derived from fecal matter — right back into the homes of 130 customers in Didcot in Oxfordshire. The new gas will take 23 days to complete its waste treatment cycle and when it enters homes will smell just like natural gas.

Using human waste for power is not a new idea. Marco Polo noticed that the Chinese used enclosed sewage tanks to generate power and bath water was said to be heated with biogas in Assyria in the 10th century BC. With populations on the rise and the issue of what to do with sewage becoming an ever present problem, why not bring it back around to electrify our houses? It’s completely renewable — as long as we keep eating — and could be a big part of the no waste holy grail.

Via The BBC


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  1. Energyfromsludge December 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    There is a lot simpler way to do this. You can ferment it to produce Ethanol, which can be used as a transport fuel or to run electric generators. (This can be done in a closed loop so no smell and no contact with the material). The resulting byproduct con be dried, used as fertilizer (As all the pathogens have been removed) or pressed into pellets or briquettes, these can be burned as they have a higher calorific value than that of mined coal. The heat from this can be used to produce steam for electricity production. Or used for heating and cooking. But like everything in the world any simple idea gets no funding. Over complicate and over engineer it to the point it will take tens of years for ROI (Return On Investment) Then the powers that be will throw millions at it.

  2. davidwayneosedach April 23, 2010 at 8:50 am

    If it works out in the UK we should follow. We have an untapped amount of energy over here!

  3. zephyrphil April 20, 2010 at 1:14 am

    I think that all the system will work. Micro individual or centralized system, depending if you lived in a city or far out. I will wormcast compost the dry fertilizer there is no anaerobic beasties that survive the worms stomach !

    I can wait to produce my own heat and electricity!

  4. Djorra April 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    The only thing that I have an issue with is that human waste is not the only thing that is in sewage, so it takes energy and/or space to sort it out from the rest of the sludge. If every household instead had their toilets directly connected to an incinerator, it would solve both this problem and save billions of gallons of water a day.

  5. Zeute April 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    As long as it was safe (the fertilizer concerns me a bit) why not?

  6. michaeljanzen April 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Now we’re talking! Looks like a fairly complex system but probably more doable than micro systems at each house because most people are so grossed out by poo.

    If you’re curious about micro methane systems I saw one well documented in Home Power magazine back in the early 90’s.

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