How To Turn Poop Into Power

How To Turn Poop Into Power

Hi, this is Julián from MinuteEarth. At this very moment, your body (and the bodies
of most animals) are producing a valuable renewable resource that could be used to power
and heat your home. As it happens, poop contains the raw materials
necessary to produce methane gas, which you can burn to produce energy or heat. But you can’t just light your toilet or
a pile of manure on fire and plug your phone in – there are a few critical steps necessary
between pooping and using that poop for energy. First, we need to collect the poop – and,
in the case of human poop, separate it from sewage water at a treatment plant, which leaves
a goopy poopy sludge that’s about as gross as it sounds. Then, we put the poop in a warm, oxygen-free
tank where some poop-eating microorganisms break down the complex carbon-based molecules
poop is made of into a series of simpler and simpler and simpler molecules until finally,
other microorganisms happily gobble up these new molecules and breathe them out as a gas
which contains some carbon-dioxide, but is mostly, and more importantly, made up of methane,
the simplest carbon-based molecule. Amazingly, more than half of the poop by volume
becomes gas and the rest is a compost-like solid made up of nutrients the microorganisms
didn’t break down. Most sewage treatment plants doodoo this poop-to-gas
magic trick simply to rid themselves of poop! And since methane is a powerful greenhouse
gas, most plants just burn it off to convert it into carbon dioxide, which is only 5% as
potent a greenhouse gas, and they sell the leftover solids as fertilizer. But a few plants have started doing “double-doody”
by burning the methane in generators to power their operations or in furnaces to heat their
buildings, and some are producing so much gas and electricity they’ve started selling it. Similarly, more and more farms are installing
the necessary infrastructure to transform their animal poop into methane, which they
can sell for profit or use themselves to cut energy costs. Which is great, because most countries, like
the U.S., generate literal crap tons more livestock poop than human poop. With this potential poop power we could generate
enough electricity to power over 13 million homes annually. If we stop wasting our waste and fully embrace
poop power, our excellent excrement could even become the largest source of power in
states with tons of livestock, like Iowa – that is, our #2 would literally be #1. And even if your computer is poop-powered,
you can make sure your internet experience isn’t crappy by using NordVPN, our sponsor
for this video. NordVPN encrypts your data and then routes
it through thousands of servers in 61 countries around the world, keeping your browsing data
safe from party poopers looking to steal it. Plus, if you’ve had the poopy experience
of being unable to watch region-locked content, NordVPN can fix that by simply switching the
country of the server you’re routing your connection through. To get started with NordVPN and get 70% off
a 3-year plan and an additional month for free, go to and use the
code MINUTEEARTH at checkout. That’s

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100 thoughts on “How To Turn Poop Into Power

  1. Thankfully we've got viewer support to power MinuteEarth! Want to become our Patreon or member on YouTube? Just visit or click "JOIN". Thanks!

  2. huh, so poop can be used in a feedback loop that gives us more food, as well as one that helps us survive non-food needs? neat!

  3. In 2016, I presented this idea to my local charity community to help the nearby slums in countryside of Jakarta to get affordable & sustainable electricity. But nobody took ot seriously and i was ended up as a clown being laughed by all volunteer. I wish to have a chance to learn the plant mechanism and build a prototype here in Jakarta.

  4. What about usong it for refulling Sterling engen ( that dosent give a damm about what is the sibstamce used for heath up one of it s parts)

  5. Yeah, but you would still make electricity out of CO2. I know it's better then MH4 but still an grennhouse contributor.

  6. I’ve been working on these types of projects for the last 6 years or so. Unfortunately government cuts to subsidies have meant few new plants are being built, despite the capacity in the waste food and sewage markets. It means more methane is going to the atmosphere, which is 23x more potent a greenhouse gas than the CO2 released from collecting the gas and burning it…

  7. Hm… but wouldn't that release even more CO2 into the atmosphere? Even without converting poop into methane, animals like cows have a huge impact on the climate with their methane emissions. If we also convert parts of their poop into methane, wouldn't that be even worse for the climate?

  8. and tecnically it would do Less polution, because it will be turned into C02 wich is less dangerous to the planet, and we have a GIANT amount of Cows to get Poop From

  9. You're still doing ads for NordVPN after they have been discredited by being hacked last year? I don't think that's a good idea.

  10. The guys who play a game called Oxygen Not Included do something similar, but different, where they heat up petroleum until it turns into sour gas, whereupon it is then cooled down, becoming liquid methane, which then is “boiled” back into a gas, which is pumped into natural gas generators, generating far more energy than would have been made had the petroleum was instead put straight into a generator.

  11. Yay more CO2 output, awesome 🙂
    Yes, methane in the atmosphere is worse, but I'm not sure what you guys are trying to advocate here.

  12. As a wastewater treatment engineer. Really well done translating this process to such a digestible 😉 size.

    One small sidenote: most treatment plants I know (european ones) already produce methane and use it to power their operations. However the leftover sludge cannot be sold as fertilizer since it is deemed too dangerous for human health (America is less strict on this), making the process not 100% renewable. Current research all goes towards finding use for the leftover sludge and not the methane production since that part is considered fleshed out.

    Again love you videos and this isn't meant as commentary just an interesting sidenote 🙂

  13. This channel have something with waste… And its kinda nice… May Talos forgive me for what i'm about to do.

  14. In Israel we do this already. About 90% of sewage water is recycled into different products. Treated water goes to water fields (80% of Israel's agricultural water usage is recycled water), methane sold for power, leftovers as fertilizer, and so on. Almost all of Tel-Aviv mentropolitan area poop is recycled one way or another.

  15. Just wondering where there might be some catch. If it was that simple it would be used somewhere. Anyway, I really hope I'm wrong and that it is a potentially viable power source

  16. Yeah but what about the co2 emmisions produced by burning the methane?On long term i dont think this is a really eco friendly method of generating power

  17. MinuteEarth: Livestock is one of the biggest contributors to climate change
    Also MinuteEarth: Livestock is the solution to climate change

  18. I suspect the infrastructure bit, costs specifically, that was really downplayed here is the big reason something like this isn't utilized often.

  19. How much poop would be enough to power a household of 4? Like, hypothetically, if we each household of 4 had a machine to collect and convert their poop into energy, would that be enough to provide power to the entire house?

  20. I learned about Bio Gas 5 years ago in My biology class
    And you know what happened
    Everybody laughing for 5 min straight

  21. The process of turning the methane into electricity using a generator is called 'cogeneration'. Many municipalities use it to help defer operating costs. Because it is considered 'green' it is able to be sold at a greater price on the energy market. The remaining biosolids waste can be made into an excellent fertilizer. Not to mention, treating wastewater is often considered to be the greatest environmental protection development, ever.

  22. Poop might be a interesting way to generate electricity, but uranium, plutonium, thorium, and tritium /deuterium reactions can generate quite a bit more power with little to no footprint on the environment

    But trying to bring up nuclear power in America is like preaching to the mute and deaf choir

  23. I was having this idea years ago but never gave so much tought of it….. But this video can change the world…. I hope u start doing this project

  24. i'd rather have it so that we stop eating so much meat but as this seems to be no option for many people at least using everything and even their poop sounds good.

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