Dec 08, 2016 05:37 AM EST

Human Excrement As Future Fuel: New Waste Treatment Method Creates Oil Product That Can Become Gasoline

By JC Santos

A research experiment found a way to treat human excrement and create a biocrude oil product that can be refined into gasoline, diesel or even jet engine fuels. The new industry could help wastewater treatment plants' incomes and lower costs of gasoline in developing nations.

According to, the Pacific Northwest National Labs in the United States developed hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), a process that speeds up the world's natural crude oil production. By using a calculated amount of heat and pressure -- similar to Earth's process of burying and "heating up" fossils that become coal -- the process breaks down human feces into biocrude in minutes.

Earlier procedures in using human waste as biocrude or oil were slow, making them unfeasible for market consumption. The report indicates that 3,000 pounds per square inch dried by HTL using a 660 degrees Fahrenheit heat dries up the liquid in the sludge quickly.

The difference of PNNL's discovery and new method to existing methods -- such as using methane from waste management procedures to create power -- is that it is quicker, safer and is more "malleable" during its refinement stage.

But some people may not be happy with where this is going. Driving down the costs and using oil as primary fuel -- even from methane and biocrude -- could harm the atmosphere due to combustion. Global warming has created unprecedented effects such as the rapid melting of the polar caps in Greenland and Antarctica. Meteorologists have also noted shifting seasons.

The "future oil" procedure in human excrement is certainly most welcome but minimizing combustion and methane output -- the latter another issue as beef production and cattle contribute greatly to global warming -- is crucial for Earth's survival. Developing conservative energy production procedures that does not harm the atmosphere such as electric mechanical technologies is greatly advisable.

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