Human Waste Has Vast Energy Potential: Canadian Organizations Funding Pioneering Projects
While we've been concerned this past week about large predators' missing poop on the Earth, a recent report concluded that human waste, collected under controlled circumstances, could be a fuel sufficient to generate electricity for about 138 million households. Which makes it pretty valuable, too--missing megashark poop be darned.
The report is from a Canadian-based branch of United Nations University (Japan). It is called the Institute for Water, Environment and Health, and the organization estimates that biogas (bio-gas) made from human waste worldwide could be valued at US $9.5 billion in the equivalent of natural gas, according to a release.
There's more, too. Residue from the waste could be dried, charred and made into 2 million tons of fuel that is the equivalent of charcoal, which would save trees, said the release.
Doing something productive with human waste would also save us from looking for ways to safely treat and dispose of it. "Rather than treating our waste as a major liability, with proper controls in place we can use it in several circumstances to build innovative and sustained financing for development while protecting health and improving our environment in the process," reads the report.
The team put together the report using waste volume statistics (average), assumptions (high and low) for the percentage of combustable solids contained in concentrated form (about 25-45 %) and known information on converting the waste into biogas and charcoal-similar fuel, according to the release.
In general, biogas is about 60 percent methane by volume. It is produced through any organic matter's bacterial breakdown, including that of fecal matter, in an oxygen-free system, the release confirmed.
Doing this would also alleviate the burden on the 2.4 billion people in the world who do not have access to improved sanitation bathrooms or facilities, and the nearly 1 billion people who have no access to toilets, according to UN figures in the release.
The report reckons that biogas that used only the waste of those openly defecating would mean a financial value of more than US $200 million per year. This could drum up electricity to fuel 10 million to 18 million households in the local areas, the release confirmed.