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Dung: It’s not waste, it’s fuel

dungThe increasingly aggressive quest for alternative energy sources is finding potential fuel stocks not only in corn, crop waste and algae, but in the stuff that flushes through sewers or is left behind on fields by livestock. Yes, that stuff.

The waste-based fuel movement (sorry) is clearly taking off, as these examples demonstrate:

  • EQMA, a startup in Waco, Texas, plans to generate 500,000 to 2 million gallons of ethanol a year using food and candy waste and cow manure as feedstocks;
  • California’s Hilarides Dairy is using a $600,000 (US) grant to convert cow manure into biomethane to power its heavy-duty diesel trucks;
  • A firm based in Sri Lanka known as Mr. Ellie Pooh produces a low-carbon-footprint paper made from elephant dung and post-consumer waste;
  • Germany’s Bioenergy Systems has developed a bioampere® solid-particle gasifier that converts manure, plant waste and other materials into syngas;
  • Researchers in Japan say they’ve found a process that could generate hydrogen fuel from cow manure, urine and human waste, among other materials;
  • Officials in Oslo are moving ahead with plans to convert sewage into biomethane that will power 80 municipal buses;
  • Kitengala Glass, an art colony in Kenya, is even using human- and animal-waste-generated methane to fire the forges and kilns it uses to create art glass.

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