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Human Poop Can Power Moon to Earth Trip

Update Date: Nov 27, 2014 07:37 PM EST
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Researchers have found a way to transform human wastes into fuel that can be used to bring rockets backs to earth from moon.

Team of researchers from Universities of Florida and Illinois have developed a process that can converts organic matter including packaged food and human wastes into methane. Daily Mail reported that the lab experiments showed researchers they can produce as much as 290 liters of methane per crew per day. The process takes a week.

"We were trying to find out how much methane can be produced from uneaten food, food packaging and human waste. The idea was to see whether we could make enough fuel to launch rockets and not carry all the fuel and its weight from Earth for the return journey. Methane can be used to fuel the rockets. Enough methane can be produced to come back from the moon," said Pratap Pullammanappallil, associate professor at University of Florida, in a press release.

"It could be used on campus or around town, or anywhere, to convert waste into fuel," he said.

Researchers began work on the project after NASA began supplying the chemically produced waste that simulated waste food, towels, cloths, packaging material and human waste. The space agency had set out making plans in 2006 to build an inhabited facility on the moon between 2019 and 2024, Business Standard reported.

After the lab tests that showed them the quantity of methane that can be produced, researchers made an aerobic digester that can breakdown or digest the waste in to bio-gas, a combination of methane and carbon dioxide. Besides producing bio-gas, the process can also produce 200 gallons of water annually.

The water produced by digestion process is not potable but can be used to produce oxygen through electrolysis, which astronauts can inhale.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Advances in Space Research. 

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