Honda Civic CowEnlarge Photo
We all know that you can turn water into electricity. But how about turning animal gas into power?
The Green gurus over at hybridcars.com report that research by Kajima, a Japanese company, in conjunction with research from Tokyo University suggests that energy harvested from human and animal waste "could be a good source of energy for hydrogen fuel cell cars." Yep, farts.
Animal gases aren't just smelly--they're also considered a form of pollution. A 2007 Supreme Court ruling deemed that "belching and flatulence" from livestock does count as air pollution, so finding something redeeming and useful out of something so prolific and polluting (methane) is green news indeed.
While the reality of a mass-market hydrogen fuel-cell car is a long ways off at best, even with promising market tests like Honda's L.A. test lease of its FCX Clarity, the feasibility of converting waste methane gas to easily usable energy is with us in the here and now. Hybridcars.com reports that California's Orange County Sanitation District installed new equipment last fall that is successfully converting municipal sewage into three streams of energy. Two of Orange County's three energy streams from municipal sewage are usable today: heat for sewage processing and electricity generation.
The third energy stream, hydrogen ready to be stored in a fuel-cell vehicle's fuel tank, is of very limited use at present for vehicles such as the aforementioned Honda FCX Clarity, BMW's 7-series hydrogen, and the Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell vehicle.--Colin Mathews