Your Toilet Could Be Sitting On A Gold Mine And You Don't Even Know It
A report from the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health says that we're flushing billions of dollars worth of energy down the drain every year. Well, if you're using a functioning toilet that is. We'll get to that momentarily, but the idea is that biogas (gaseous fuel, especially methane, produced by the fermentation of organic matter) can be extracted from poop and made into renewable energy.
So, your backside is worth a buck or two, or $9.5 billion–yeah.
That's pretty remarkable, and Dr. Chris Metcalfe (a co-author of the report) explains how it works here:
“We recycle the nutrients in human waste effectively via agriculture in many places, yet the potential energy value of human waste has been given much less attention to date."
This reduces the need for for gathering wood. The bigger picture this is trying to tackle is the fact that not everyone in the world has access to working toilets, and are left to defecate in the open. This new initiative would use that for the better.
UNU-INWEH Director Zafar Adeel said:
"When it comes to creating misery and poverty, human waste mismanagement has few rivals. If we can demonstrate a simple, cost-effective new approach in low-resource settings, if we can successfully make a business case and change the economic paradigm of human waste management, we can advance development, protect the environment and help reduce sanitation problems causing one-tenth of all world illnesses."
Clean energy and world health just got a lot dirtier.