This Thanksgiving season is not only known for cooking the favourite holiday bird but also preparing something different out of it. A team of scientists at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel recently set up a field lavatory to test poultry excrements. The idea was to produce fuel by transforming waste into resources using different types of manure.
Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University published a study that poultry poop can be effectively converted to biofuels and replace approximately 10% of coal used in electricity. It could serve as a promising alternative source of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they indicated.
Turkey droppings were heated in autoclaves to neutralise germs, then crushed to their dry form. Scientists then mixed water, created small batches, and loaded it into nine 50-milliliter lab reactors, which were designed to withstand high temperature and high pressure. The temperature was frequently altered between 180 degrees Celsius to 240 degrees Celsius. All batches of poop were cooked in the absence of oxygen. This process is called HTC or Hydrothermal Carbonisation. HTC mimics natural coal formation within several hours. Scientists found that poultry waste processed as hydrochar produced 24% higher net energy generation.
“It is an environmental burden, and people are still trying to figure out what to do with it. Future Thanksgivings could be powered by the fuel made from a turkey itself, a goal the researchers have in mind”, Lead Researcher at the university, Amit Gross, commented.
While cow manure can also be used instead of turkey feces, the team has also been experimenting with human excreta. However, according to scientists, poultry litter works the best because it contains more nitrogen. Additionally, as an extra benefit of turning waste into fuel, it might also be possible to recover some of that nitrogen and use it to nourish plants.
Poultry-made hydrochar powder has the potential to produce electricity and fuel generators in the future. Making this work on an industrial level will take some scaling up but businesses can avoid several engineering problems. Moreover, some furnaces can easily pulverise coal for better combustion, so having the fuel in powder form rather than in lumps could be a mighty advantage.