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Power The Future, Through Cow Manure?

Posted in sustainability

(via IsraGood)

With many governments pursuing new ways to power their cities via green energy, it looks like they soon may have another option to add to their list.

While most people think of cows as a “unconverted” forms of lunch and dinner, these harmless beasts may be able to energize our communities through the smelly presents that they often leave behind.

(Globes Online) GES said that the Hefer Valley plant is the first large-scale plant of its kind in Israel, and one of the first in the world. The plant utilizes 600 tons of manure a day. The manure is sterilized, and the solid and liquid waste are then processed to produce methane, which drives the generators to make electricity.

Granite Hacarmel CEO Amiaz Sagis said, “This is unquestionably an important milestone. This facility fits in with Granite Hacarmel’s strategy to invest in infrastructures and ecology. The company is also investing resources to develop alternative energy, water treatment, and desalination.”

Ironically this whole development began when the Hefer Valley Cooperative Society was ordered to find a solution towards reducing the pollution being produced by 12,000 cows. It seems that after some head scratching, this power plant was built, allowing the community to not only reduce pollution, but find a unique way at keeping the lights on.

Although many nations would benefit from turning cow manure (or sheep, horse, camel, etc.), there probably is not enough of this stuff to both fuel our planet and make our gardens grow. However, if researchers found a way to turn “human manure” into energy, we could ultimately find a renewable energy source that can keep up with our ever growing population.

3 Comments so far

  1. “However, if researchers found a way to turn “human manure” into energy, we could ultimately find a renewable energy source that can keep up with our ever growing population.”

    This is physically impossible. A standard human consumes around ~2500 kcal/day (10.465 MJ). If none of this energy was used for other stuff (like breathing), and we could extract it from sewage with perfect efficiency and convert it to natural gas for all six and a half billion people, we’d produce around 1.1 million metric tons of natural gas. In comparison, the world uses ~5 million metric tons of natural gas a day; so even making ridiculously optimistic assumptions, this wouldn’t come close to covering our gas supply, let alone our other energy sources (coal, oil, nuclear, hydro).

  2. Thanks for the analysis Tom!

    What about using animals along with humans? I am looking for solutions here, otherwise we may be stuck with gas and coal until the sun burns out. ;-) (that is, if it last that long).


    This could probably be used in combination with other green energy sources, although thus far the only promising ones are nuclear and hydropower.

  3. The use of methane from human waste as a source of energy is nothing new. Municipal waste treatment plants have been running their pumps on sewer gas (by converting diesels to spark ignition) for over 25 years that I know of.

    Methane is about equivalent to 120 octane. It cannot be compressed efficiently, but it makes an excellent fuel for stationary applications.

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