Japanese Researchers Turn Cow Dung Into Fuel; Say Can Use Human Waste, Too

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

Photo: Pikaluk, via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Michael Halpin

    Hydrogen is a wonderful element and when it is used in a fuel cell it becomes a clean, efficient way to produce electrical energy.
    It is the most abundant element in the universe and has powered the sun for billions of years on a daily basis without failing once.
    The more we learn about hydrogen and the many ways it can be produced from a variety of feedstocks the sooner we can move away from dirty poisonous crude oil to clean green sophisticated hydrogen.
    The time is right for the car manufacturing companies to reinvent the automobile, invest in fuel cell vehicles and say a fond farewell to the internal combustion engine which in a modern world is past its use by date.
    It has been a good servant to mankind along with the steam engine and the horse but we are living in a time where it is crucial we find a new clean form of energy to power our vehicles.
    Vote for HYDROGEN the friendly element.
    Mike H. founder HYDROGENHEADS

  2. Uncle B

    Oslo, Norway ferments humanure and makes bio-gas to power their city buses – Just think how clean the lakes, seashores and rivers would be in North America if this was made “Obama-Law”. The process leaves a residue recycled as fertilizer and top-soil building. We could recover some of the soil we have paved over at the same time. The grim reality is oil is still under priced and readily available, and as long as we have cheap oil, we will be able to afford the “Status Quo” a terrible state of affairs, but in America, “business is business” even as we go down the tubes to Hell!

  3. Artie Caton

    Because of my studies of the true word of God, back to the original manuscripts, I am starting to believe that (along with every other man made problem) that every bit of our green-house-gases problem could have, and should have been avoided altogether if we (Mankind) had used all of our animals waste as a fuel instead of our destroying the entire planet’s forestry for our fuel source. Especially knowing that God made everything perfect and He saw that it was Good! Now, keeping that statement that He made in mind, what other logical conclusion could we, the great ones, (white man) have made, other than to use all the waste as either fertilizer and/or fuel? Keep in mind that all those in the white house are exempt from this conversation for safety reasons! Knowing those people, they’d probably use it for food or face cream in its natural state! Only Scientists to first graders are aloud into this conversation! No Government officials aloud past the “TELL US WHAT YOU THINK” question…
    Thank You,

  4. karthik

    sir i want to know full details how to produce fuel with cow dung will you explain fully with practical knowledge. please send me with the cost of project.

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