Turkey Poop Might Just Save Us From Ourselves

It seems that Israeli scientists have revealed yet another use for our turkey leftovers. So hold off a second in busting out these leftovers out of your freezer – it not what you think at all. It is actually about their poop. Scientists feel that turkey waste along with other waste from poultry could actually be a source for renewable fuel for electricity and heat.

Say What?!?

“Poultry litter might be a notorious source of pollution, yet has the potential to be an important resource,” claimed Amit Gross, who is the chair at the department of environmental hydrology and microbiology from Ben Gurion University’s Zuckerberg Institute. “The Earth is literally going to be up to its ears in waste, and we’re trying to find a way to use this waste for electricity, for heat, and for cleaner air and water.”

The promise for poultry poop is actually quite large “because huge amounts of it are produced worldwide, and the production will continue to increase as the world population grows and consumes more animal protein,” he continued.

Could Replace Significant Amounts of Carbon Fuels

These researchers claim that treated poultry poop could even take the place of as much as 10% of the coal currently used in electrical generation, which will definitely provide a reduction of carbon pollution—the primary culprit of global warming — as well as provide a great reliable energy source. They recently posted their report in the publication Applied Energy.

 “It would be similar to how ethanol is added to gas tanks,” Gross added. “Burning a hypothetical 10 percent less coal in the real world would have a significant effect on carbon emissions, as that is a significant amount.”

Crops that are grown for fuel are placing a great burden on water, land, and even fertilizer, the scientists said. Additionally, the researchers reported that “environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem.” They like the idea of getting two birds with only one stone, so to speak, pointing out that “converting poultry waste to solid fuel… is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels.”

Researchers compared two different processes, both of which converted poultry poop into fuel in order to see which one was most effective. In the first process, the excrement was heated to generate biochar, which is actually a fuel that burns and look just like charcoal. In the second process, they created hydrochar with a process called hydrothermal carbonization that actually mimics the natural formation of coal. In the end, they discovered that the hydrochar process created 24% more energy.

The research team had chosen to examine poultry waste because it contains more nitrogen, which is a fertilizer, than is contained in the poop of other animals. This is actually an added benefit of turning excrement into fuel, it could even recover a portion of that nitrogen and then utilize it for the nourish of more plants.

There is no question that producing these biofuels are quite expensive, Gross admitted. “However, there is significant monetary and environmental cost as well to disposing an enormous amount of poop from the coop,” he points out. “Crops grown specifically for energy purposes do not represent the best use of resources. However, fuels derived from [poultry excrement] count as a waste-to-fuel.”