How Much Energy Could We Generate By Burning All Our Poop?

Our energy crisis savior? Credit: Zamurovic Photography

There’s another way

There are some obvious problems with this method of energy generation, aside from the fact that it doesn’t produce that much energy at all. Many assumptions have been made, and the final process will likely produce less energy and cost more energy to set up and run.

You may have spotted earlier that carbon dioxide is produced during the combustion of glucose. This is the problem with all fossil fuels and biofuels – carbon dioxide is a common byproduct, and this is the primary driver of man-made climate change. Nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal power have a near-zero carbon footprint and are far better at generating energy than burning poop.

There is an alternative method of producing energy from poop, and some places around the world already do this. In the absence of oxygen, certain microbes break down organic material (such as poop) into carbon dioxide and methane (among other things), a mixture known as biogas.

This methane can then be burned and used for additional energy, but this also produces carbon dioxide. Hopefully, the carbon dioxide can then be stored and kept from escaping into the atmosphere, but this is an entirely different kettle of fish.

If, however, we want to mitigate man-made climate change and produce cleaner energy, we should do two things – focus on using nuclear and renewable energy sources and investing in nuclear fusion research. Burning your poop, we’re afraid, just isn’t going to cut it.

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That's the sort of wind power you should invest in. Credit: zhangyang13576997233

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