Energy crisis solution could be to use human waste

By Tim Sandle, Digital Journal.

Researchers in Canada are considering the feasibility of using biogas, derived from human waste, to produce energy. They argue that each year people produce waste that could be converted to energy worth $9.5 billion, at current prices.

The thought of taking human fecal material and creating a "biogas" may seem a little disgusting, but it provides a potential energy source that is self-renewing and one that does not involve messing up Antarctica in search of oil. In addition to biogas, the residue from the process — the dried and charred remains (called fecal sludge) — could be used to produce 2 million tonnes of charcoal-equivalent fuel. This would reduce the need to use trees.The key technical factor is safety: processing human waste safely (since it will contain pathogenic, enteric microorganisms) and generating and collecting gas in a way that will not result in explosions. The idea has come from the United Nations University's Canadian-based water institute.