Have you ever wondered what the benefits of human excrement could be? Well the time to ponder is over. Thanks to a team of researchers from the Imperial College, Durham University and the University of Manchester in London, a device for harvesting hydrogen energy and recovering drinking water from human waste has been developed. The team secured its funding by beating 2,000 others to receive the money from Microsoft owner Bill Gates’s foundation. The researchers hope that the technology which they’ve developed can provide a device the ability to generate clean drinkable water and energy from waste, and a source of hydrogen energy sustainable for houses in developing countries.
The device is portable and can be installed in remote places and homes . The technology is based on a porous scaffold which holds bacteria and metal nano particles. After the waste sludge is filtered through the scaffolds, the particles react with the waste matter and generate the recycled resources which can be used or stored.
In the early stages of the project, the team will develop a stand-alone sanitation device which will make it cheaper and easier for people living in developing countries to use the technology where sewage networks do not exist. In places where sewage infrastructure is available, the device can be hooked into the system.
The team is also aiming to develop the technology into a ‘pick and mix’ recycling unit that can extract resources which are useful for people such as methane, electrolytes and ammonia. The device could be more efficient than those currently in the market.
Such an initiative could turn the world into a cleaner place where people are able to generate their own energy, fertilizer and clean water by simply doing what comes to us naturally once or twice a day. The team of researchers hopes to develop a prototype by 2013.