There's really no way to say this other than to just come out and say it: poop could power our cars. What a time to be alive. Scientists over at the University of California Los Angeles are working on a way to create automobiles that can be entirely powered by waste products. And before you think to call bull on this idea, imagine just how resourceful it really is. The truth is that with how rapidly technology is expanding each day, there's no reason we shouldn't find more sustainable solutions for our world. Sure, this one might be a little gross, but wait until you hear the benefits.
Pioneering the concept is Fulbright scholar David Wernick who, along with his fellow researchers, realized that there was a ton of waste (human, animal, and otherwise) going, well, to waste. According to the Department of Agriculture, one billion tons of manure is generated each year. The majority of that is left to compost, which actually releases nitrous oxide and methane into the air — two harmful greenhouse gases that are 325 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
“We’re working with anything such as agricultural waste like manure, municipal waste like sewage, plant matter, cellulosic matter and even carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” Wernick said in a video. Instead of just leaving waste product to further ruin our environment, he wants to turn it into renewable biofuel (talk about killing two birds with one stone).
The plan is simple: Wernick wants to create a bacteria that will effectively break down the proteins in the waste and turn them into alcohol biofuels and ammonia. “We’re working with anything such as agricultural waste like manure, municipal waste like sewage, plant matter, cellulosic matter and even carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” Wernick said.
The potential for this project is incredible, but especially so when you consider that using waste as fuel isn't only a clean alternative to using up fossil fuels, it's also a means of helping the environment. Some argue that the ever-increasing population of factory farm animals are directly responsible for global warming. The Environmental Integrity Project found the air at some of those factory sites is dirtier than that of the most polluted cities in the country.
Wernick and his team are currently still in the process of creating a means of producing the sustainable fuels more efficiently, but if they can do so, there's a real potential for it to become a mass-scale alternative fuel source. Sure, it's not the most beautiful sounding idea, but when you really think about it, it could affect our environment profoundly at no cost to us at all. Some may even call this idea the sh*t.