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Paid To Poop: How Feces Is Creating “Clean” Energy

A university in South Korea has designed an eco-friendly toilet that turns waste into energy and cryptocurrency, which university students can use to buy food and coffee on campus.  

The BeeVi toilet was created by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon, who teaches at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST).

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure. I have put this value into ecological circulation,” Cho said, as carried by Reuters.  

The innovative toilet has a vacuum pump that sends the waste to a tank underground. The toilet thus reduces water usage and has been called a “super water-saving vacuum toilet.”

In the tank in a lab, microorganisms turn the waste into methane. The gas then powers a hot-water boiler, a gas stove, and a solid oxide fuel cell, providing energy for the building.

The average human waste per day can be converted into 50 liters of methane gas, which could generate enough power to drive a car for nearly a mile, or to generate 0.5 kilowatts (kWh) of electricity, the South Korean professor says.

The eco-friendly toilet can be used by university students to help mine a cryptocurrency Cho has invented, Ggool. The crypto can be used as a payment for food, fruit, coffee, or books at the campus, according to the university.

Every student using the toilet earns 10 Ggool, Korean for honey, a day.

“I had only ever thought that faeces are dirty, but now it is a treasure of great value to me,” postgraduate student Heo Hui-jin told Reuters. “I even talk about faeces during mealtimes to think about buying any book I want.”

Cryptocurrency mining has recently attracted a lot of attention because of the large amount of energy it sucks. Elon Musk, who had said earlier this year that people could buy Teslas with Bitcoin, backtracked on this promise a few weeks later, saying that crypto mining is still largely powered by fossil fuel-derived energy. Most recently, Musk said last month that Tesla may start accepting cryptocurrency again if crypto mining becomes green.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 12 2021 said:
    The idea isn’t new because it is well known that rubbish dumped in landfills generates methane which is used to generate electricity. Moreover, the great arable lands of Africa and Asia particularly China and India have been for centuries enriched with human and animal excretions that are used as manure.

    Still, in the ludicrous world of IEA’s la-la-land net-zero emissions roadmap, the South Korean Professor might get the Nobel Prize for generating energy from human excretions and adding value to it.

    And by the way, the correct spelling of the waste matter is faeces and not feces.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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