Can power be produced from pet feces?

By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey

Power Generated by Pet Feces
Power can not only be generated by pet feces, but also by human and livestock feces. The conversion of animal waste to power has been used minimally around the world for quite some time, but more recently there is a greater focus due to our knowledge of the destructive effects of Climate Change. In the late 1970s I wrote a paper in undergraduate school entitled, “Love City: A Planned Urban Environment,” where I envisioned and proposed biological treatment centers at the periphery of the city to decompose and process human and animal waste into a source of power.
If people could get over their hang-up of using poop power they might realize a better way to deal with an environment that is disintegrating into global warming, groundwater contamination that affects our drinking water, and air pollution in crowded cities.
It does seem however that a few enlightened beings have decided to embark on the poop power mission and have demonstrated also that it works.
San Francisco has become the first American City to use pet-poop power by converting dog feces to a renewable energy source. Norcal Waste Management, San Francisco’s waste management contractor noticed the large amount dog feces being picked up and decided on another way to go green in San Francisco.
San Francisco generates 6,500 tons of dog poop per year. Since January 2006, Norcal has been collecting dog feces throughout the city by depositing dog-waste collection carts complete with biodegradable bags.
Here’s how it works:
The pet poop is first put in an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert organic waste into methane gas. Burning methane produces energy in the form of electricity, natural gas, and liquefied natural gas. The 2 week long digestion process also produces valuable compost for agriculture.”
(http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/06/19/dog_poop_power_for_san_francisco/)
Dogs and cats alone contribute nearly 10 million pounds of fecal waste per year, which accounts for 4% of all waste in landfills.
A few cattle ranchers have also started using this energy producing process saying, “it is a lot cheaper to use the poop.”
The Anaerobic Digester has been “used in sewage treatment centers for some time now.”
(http://environmentalgeography.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/power-poop/)
Rwandan prison facilities recently received the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy for their work in producing biogas from human waste. Prisoner’s feces are converted to biogas and used for cooking at the prison. It has reduced their wood fuel costs by 60%.
Due to overpopulation at the prison with huge amounts of human waste being produced, the processing of it had become increasingly difficult with a large proportion of it ending up in the river, polluting the drinking water. They had to do something.
Rwandan biogas facilities contribute at least half the energy needs to their 30 prisons around the country.
Biogas is used in homes in Nepal and to power trains in Sweden. Biogas is odorless, as is the odor-free fertilizer also produced through the Anaerobic Digester process.
(http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2005/07/68127)
Ken Silverstein, Energy Biz insider in an article titled “The Appeal of Animal Waste,” states: “The whole idea stinks. But generating heat and power from livestock manure is appealing. The technology is an important component in the fight against climate change. Normally, farms store the waste in a lagoon and then later use it as fertilizer. But that natural decomposition creates methane, which is actually 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it come to affecting the Earth’s temperature.”
Other places getting into the Poop Power act are:
1) Pacific Gas and Electric. They are teaming up with farms throughout California to use animal waste to create electricity.
2) Portland General Electric is partnering with dairy farms in Oregon to also convert animal waste to electricity.
3) The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Development are partnering the “digester” program in Ohio.
(from “The Appeal of Animal Waste by Ken Silverstein, Energy Biz Insider).
So there you have it. Generating power from pet feces is going to help with global warming. Also all types of feces can get in the act. We sure could generate a lot of clean power by utilizing waste materials more efficiently and this would help tremendously at reducing greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
The fact is that Methane Gas is much more potent than CO2 or Carbon Dioxide; and leaving it to seep into soils and groundwater, and to migrate into the atmosphere, is creating devastating pollution effects. We all need to think responsibly about the way the world is headed. Are we headed to extinction or to life? Global warming affects us all.
Copyright © 2019 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. All rights reserved.