Looking for an alternative and innovative method to combat the energy crisis, look no further than your own bathroom. Ecotricity, the world’s first green electricity company, has launched a project that will use biomethane- a gas produced when organic material breaks down without the presence of oxygen- from a local sewage plant to provide heat and gas to homes in Oxfordshire, UK. Approximately 22% of the methane found in our atmosphere is human caused. Since methane is a Greenhouse Gas, it is contributing to climate change. The average person produces about 66 pounds of waste that is capable of releasing biomethane. As a result, using the British example, 62.5 million people could generate enough biomethane to meet the yearly gas demand of for 200,000 homes. The process that the waste undergoes lasts only 23 days, making it a quick resource to obtain. This in turn will help reduce foreign dependency on natural gas and would reduce natural gas exploration. Projected savings for replacing 15% of the UK’s natural gas with biomethane from human waste is 15 million pounds per year (about $24 million USD). Why not tap into a human created and cheap resource?
The use of poop as a means of powering things is a not a new movement, but it is getting bigger than just scattered droppings. Recently in Cambridge, MA a dog poop powered light was installed at a dog park and at Duke, they have created a project that will obtain the methane from pig poop for use as electricity in their efforts to become carbon neutral. This innovative use for poop will help reduce the impact of livestock on the environment. It is a smart and practical use that will prevent dumping and atmospheric methane emissions. Poop is an inexpensive renewable source of energy that the world shouldn’t waste. Not only can it be used for electricity purposes, but in the new project in the UK it is also being used for cooking as a source of gas. Using human and animal waste is a plausible alternative because it is easily obtainable and is always in supply. Aside from the obviously unpleasant odor the only thing obstructing the pipeline for success is a low fiber intake.