New study shows human excrement as potential energy source

A pilot study from the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) demonstrated that raw human excrement could ‘potentially’ be converted to a reusable fuel and a nutrient rich fertiliser, according to a press release.

The study, described by BGU as ‘groundbreaking’, was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

It details how scientists from BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research have refined a process using hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) to heat human waste what BGU describes as a ‘pressure cooker’ to convert the waste into hydrochar, a biomass fuel resembling charcoal. This also sterilises the waste material.

The process also allows the overlap of waste treatment and energy processes, potentially providing a solution to areas with a lack of sanitation services as well as also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“By treating human waste properly, we can address both of these issues at once,” said Prof. Gross, dean of the Zuckerberg Institute.

The study was funded by the Rosenzweig-Coopersmith Foundation and the Israel Water Authority.

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