Jun
15
2009

How is it that talking about poop just isn’t that interesting to me anymore?

Have you ever seen anything more dull?: Even the toilet seems to be yawning.
Have you ever seen anything more dull?: Even the toilet seems to be yawning.Courtesy luis echanove
It’s called growing up, Peter, and everyone does it. Even you. But, on the plus side, you can legally buy cigarettes now.

Or am I just tired of life?

Well, whatever. Poop is in the news. Yawn. Again. And again.

Where others might see a barrel, and be all, “Hey, I’m not scraping the bottom of that barrel,” the cleverest capitalists and the sharpest scientists look at the situation and say, “Are you done with that barrel? And does anyone want to buy what I can scrape out of here? Even if it’s poop?” And of course it’s poop. And of course someone wants it.

Awesome I guess.

I should be more excited, shouldn’t I? I mean, someone out there is taking human waste and turning it into an environmentally-conscious coal substitute. It probably looks hilarious. But there’s only so much human waste a person can take. It’s just not exciting anymore.

So some company is squeezing the water from the brown gold of southern California, and turning it into coal-y stuff. Cement factories buy it, they burn it, they mix the ashes with their cement. At full capacity they’ll produce enough crapcoal to equal the energy out put of a 7-megawatt power station.

Great.

The fecal sciences just seem to have lost their flavor.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

curious's picture
curious says:

do you have any stats or background on the potential hazardous materials that may come from burning poop? any harmful bacteria spores or chemicals that may fill the air after poop is burned? just curious.

posted on Mon, 06/15/2009 - 5:49pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Hey curious,

I don't have any information on that, but I can look into it. I'd guess, though, that there's really no danger from bacterial stuff. The sort of bacteria that lives in feces probably needs, you know, warm, moist environments to live. Lots of those bacteria die in wastewater treatment anyhow, and when they're processing these waste solids into fuel, they squeeze all the water out. So it would be really hard for anything to live in it.

Even if there were active bacteria in the fuel, however, the act of burning it would certainly sterilize it. I don't think there are any bacteria or spores out there that could survive the heat needed to process the raw materials of concrete.

Not sure about the chemicals. I mean, people have been burning animal poop for a long time, and I don't think it makes anyone sick. Most of what it releases is CO2, but it's CO2 that's already in the carbon cycle (as opposed to stored in coal or oil) so it's considered "carbon neutral." I wonder, though... humans do eat some pretty funky stuff. I'm sure the toxic chemicals in our waste are less than those in coal, but I wonder what would start showing up in measurable amounts if this sort of thing went large scale? The food additives and preservatives, pesticides, trace heavy metals, etc that we consume are mostly harmless in the quantities we absorb them in, but... It makes me think of the recent studies that are showing that all our prescription drugs are starting to appear in our water because some of them pass through our bodies unchanged.

I don't know. But good point, curious. It's something to consider, especially if you plan on starting up a large-scale poop burning operation.

posted on Tue, 06/16/2009 - 11:00am
shanai's picture
shanai says:

I have to admit that for me, poop is never a boring topic of conversation.

Here's a link to an article about an artist who made a machine called "Cloaca" that makes artificial excrement.

Now tell me THAT'S not exciting?

posted on Tue, 06/16/2009 - 10:58am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

exciting but wasteful. wasting food when thousands of people around thee world are lack food, thus can't even produce their own real excrements. this is a great example of doing things just because we can with the technology and stage of life we are currently living in.

posted on Tue, 06/16/2009 - 6:10pm
shanai's picture
shanai says:

Very good point!

I think the person who made it would call it art, which is itself (sometimes) a very wasteful endeavor.

posted on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 10:31am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Sort of like monster trucks?

posted on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 1:48pm
curious's picture
curious says:

thanks JG. yeah! that was exactly what i was thinking about, starting up a poop-burning revolution, since i believe it may just be the next NEW thing!

posted on Tue, 06/16/2009 - 8:23pm

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