Scientists Made Rocket Fuel Out of Human Waste

Professor Pratap Pullammanappallil and the anaerobic digester 1 photo
Photo: University of Florida
Antoine Lavoisier said once “In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes” and here’s the perfect example to demonstrate that. Scientists managed to turn human waste (yes, poop included) into rocket fuel.
Human waste becomes quite a problem when you’re in space. You don’t want it floating around! And that’s why having a dump on a space station is quite more complex than simply grabbing the newspaper and let it rip.

It has to be collected and stored in special tanks that are burned on atmosphere reentry so no one will here or up there will have a messy problem at one point.

However, going on a longer mission, or even staying on the Moon in the upcoming lunar base that is said to be built there by 2025, will require other disposal measures, maybe even some that could turn out as a greater benefit than simply be clean.

Captain, activate the retropoopers!

That’s how a team scientists from the University of Florida, led by prof. Pratap Pullammanappallil, found a way to obtain rocket fuel out of the disgusting stuff. A very useful weight saving method, hence space travelers won’t have to carry the extra fuel for the trip back.

Using an anaerobic digester process, which also kills pathogens from human waste, the scientists managed to create methane; about 290 liters per crew per day, all produced in one week.

I’m guessing what’s running about in your mind now, but no, the scientists weren’t actually working with poop, but with packages of chemically produced human waste, including food waste, towels, wash cloths, clothing and packaging materials, all provided by NASA.

The process also creates non-drinkable water and using electrolysis can be split into hydrogen and oxygen which astronauts can breathe. The exhaled carbon dioxide can then be mixed with the hydrogen and converted again into methane and water.

See, nothing gets truly lost. And the process will also be very useful here on Earth too with all the waste going on around near every big city. Sewage water will truly be gold.
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