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Will animal waste soon power your car? Here's the straight poop

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On: Tue, May 3, 2016 at 7:30AM | By: Bill Wilson


Will animal waste soon power your car? Here's the straight poop

To some environmental skeptics, the idea of cars running on alternative fuels is a lot of BS. Well, it turns out they’re not far from the truth. A group of researchers at the University of California has developed a way to convert animal waste products (the aforementioned “BS”) into fuel that can power motor vehicles. The technology is currently in its infant stages. But, should it prove practical, the results could revolutionize the way the world gets from point A to point B. And that’s not just a load of cow dung.

Modern farming techniques produce enormous amounts of digestive waste. Beef cattle alone create more than 87,000 pounds of feces each second of the day, every day. All that scat leads to enormous problems for waste management systems. Often it contaminates local drinking water, sickening tens of thousands of people each year. It also produces greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide that are helping to drive global climate change.

Traditionally, farmers have had little choice but to let animal waste sit around in giant piles and rot. The method developed by the University of California researchers takes that material and converts it into liquid fuel. Unlike other processes, the compound requires no modification to existing engine designs. Drivers can literally pour it directly into their tank just like good, old-fashion gasoline and drive around town. There’s no need to invest in exotic forms of technology or to reinvent the nation’s energy infrastructure.

The process also manufactures a cheap, highly potent form of fertilizer that’s ideal for boosting crop production. This could radically reduce the amount of money it takes to grow the world’s food supply, creating a boon for both the energy and agricultural sectors of the world economy.

The new poop-based product falls under the category of biofuels, which visionaries have long touted as an ecologically friendly solution to the world's energy needs. But existing biofuels like ethanol have severe limitations. They’re expensive. They require using large amounts of farmland to grow crops for energy production rather than for food. Plus, automotive engines require significant modification to run on products like ethanol safely. The alternative developed by the University of California scientists is free of these downsides, giving it enormous potential.

As of now, the feces-to-fuel process costs too much to be economically practical. The researchers are now working on ways to overcome this problem, however. Once they’ve achieved this goal, you may literally find your car running on a load of manure; and that’s the straight poop.




Comments

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danielcllns | 6:19AM (Fri, May 6, 2016)

Great news! Finally cows won't hurt the air that much, because in some countries they are even banned, because their "left-overs" pollute the environment very much. Would be great to see that farmers could have a personal poop to fuel machines, as they now do have solar energy systems up their roofs. Good times!
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