Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Professor Junichi Takahashi and the Sumitomo Corporation research group (both in Japan) have jointly developed technology to produce hydrogen from cattle dung and urine for use in fuel cells. They say the same can be done with human waste.
The researchers say the process allows for the production of hydrogen without producing unwanted carbon dioxide. Given its potential utility with human waste, the idea also may open pathways to household toilet technology: “toilet generators.”
Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan reports:
Cattle dung and urine first need to be fermented under oxygen-free conditions to extract ammonia, which is then electrolyzed into hydrogen and nitrogen. The hydrogen is then fed into a fuel cell along with oxygen, where the two react to produce electricity.
Takahashi and the group spent about 2 million yen [approx. 22,000 USD] to build an experimental apparatus, which measures 2 meters by 1 meter, that produces hydrogen from fermented animal waste. Using the device in conjunction with a fuel cell, they successfully produced 0.2 watt of electricity from about 20 kilograms of cattle waste.
It is estimated that, by increasing the power generation efficiency, six to eight tons of cattle waste, equivalent to the average amount of cattle waste produced each day at a cattle farm in Hokkaido, can produce enough hydrogen to generate electricity to power an average household for three days.
Source: Yomiuri Shimbun