As the planet is hastily running short of natural resources, communities are looking to waste as an asset. Anything from biochar to human excrement are now staples in energy production. To bring everything together, engineers have created the NEWgenerator, which processes materials found in sewage.
First, the waste is fed into a bioreactor, where anaerobic microorganisms break down the solids and produce biogas.
The methane produced is chemical-free and perfect for cooking and heating. To complete the cycle, USF engineers have also made the most of liquid and solid waste.
The water that passes through is… disinfected with chlorine, and while the end result is probably still not drinkable, it’s clean enough to use to flush the toilets in the block or irrigate crops.
The remainder of the waste can be used as fertilizer. So far, the system is testing waters in India and South Africa. Each device is usable for up to 100 people a day, with future versions projected to reach thousands. Considering that millions are without access to basic amenities, the NEWgenerator is a game-changer for marginalized communities.
With an increasing number of industries stepping away from fossil fuels, eco-friendly substitutes are all the hype. Over time, both human and cow excrement have proved useful in the kitchen and as gas replacements. Unsurprisingly, an Israeli study has found turkey poop to be a valuable resource in producing combustible biomass fuel.
“Environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem,” said the researchers in a statement. “Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source, is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels.”
The process converts turkey stool into hydrochar and biochar. Both materials produce much less methane and ammonia as compared to traditional coal.
“This investigation helped in bridging the gap between hydrochar being considered as a potential energy source toward the development of an alternative renewable fuel,” [environmental hydrology and microbiology professor Amit] Gross said. “Our findings could help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural wastes.”
At this stage in the game, researchers at the Zuckerberg Institute seem to have killed two birds with one stone. It looks like these turkeys are off the dinner menu.
Ever since chancing upon the LooWatt, the phone-charging toilet, it seems there is more to poop than we think. While it may stink, it’s valuable in conducting energy. Organic farmer Albert Straus drives an electric dairy truck powered entirely by methane. In other words, cow excrement.
In a project that ultimately took 8 years to complete, Albert Straus and a local mechanic converted a 33,000 pound International Harvester semi-truck to an all-electric hauler… The truck’s batteries are charged with clean electricity that is generated by the methane gas produced by those same cows’ manure in the farm’s biodigester.
8 years may have been quite some time, but I am certain the wait was worth it. After all, Straus did beat Elon Musk to the punch. Not only is the use of manure as an energy source eco-friendly — it’s cheap, too. In fact, it can save farms up to $50,000 a year.
“What I’ve tried to do is create a sustainable organic farming model that is good for the earth, the soil, the animals, and the people working on these farms, and helps revitalize rural communities.” [says] Straus.
Straus is now working with others on a 20-year carbon farming plan. As for poop-powered vehicles? Straus is set on building a Farmers Market truck. Poop-tastic!