There are nearly three times as many chickens on earth as humans, and they make a lot of poop.

Poultry waste can emit methane and nitrous oxide, spread disease, and pollute waterways. But safely managing and disposing of it all is a big challenge.

Mau: “There is a need for better solutions of how to treat that type of waste.”

That’s Vivian Mau, a researcher at Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev. She’s part of a team investigating how to convert chicken waste to energy.

One method is to add water to poultry excrement, and then heat it under pressure to nearly 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The process uses a lot of energy. But, the result is a carbon-rich material called hydrochar that can produce more than twice as much energy as was used to make it.

Mau: “It combusts in a very similar manner to coal.”

From chicken feed to poop to energy - this process generates much less #GlobalWarming pollution. Click To Tweet

But over its full life cycle – from chicken feed to poop to energy – it produces electricity with much less global warming pollution, so it’s better for the climate.

On its own, chicken-poop hydrochar will never replace coal. But, Mau says, the technology could provide a way to better manage poultry waste and help cut back on global warming pollution.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Filed under: