A new study demonstrates how poop could generate enough energy to power 138 million homes. Researchers at the UN University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNUINWEH)hypothesize that biogas from human waste could produce the equivalent of $12.5 billion in natural gas. Plus, creating carefully-designed poop collection system in developing countries like Indonesia, Brazil and Ethiopia – so that the methane can be harvested for clean energy – would address the additional challenge of poor sanitation conditions.

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The UN’s study tackles two important issues: contamination due to lack of sanitation systems in developing countries and the need for a low-cost energy system. Focused on communities in Uganda as an example, the study links the lack of proper sanitation to both health and environmental issues. Diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid are attributed to improper sanitation systems, as well as the presence of untreated sewage which can contaminate the water table and affect the drinking water far beyond just one community.

Related: World’s largest waste-to-energy system turns Washington D.C. poop into power

Developing a sanitation system in a new community is extremely expensive, so the UN has turned to biogas as a financing incentive. Biogas is a valuable clean energy. The report estimated that the anaerobic gas produced by poop in these communities could produce biogas worth $200-$376 million each year.

Although a report will not build clean water systems or anaerobic digesters, it does start an important conversation.

+ UN University Institute for Water, Environment and Health

Via Global News

Images ©Jared and Corin and ©Ed Kohler