According to a new research, human fecal matter could be used in space technology. Scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Illinois have developed a new process for conversion of packaged food and human feces into methane.
As per experiments performed in laboratory, about 290 liters of methane per crew per day could be produced by using the new process. The study has been published in the journal Advances in Space Research. The scientists built an aerobic digester to break down the fecal waste and convert it into biogas.
The process could be used for biogas formation and 200 gallons of water a year. This water is not drinkable but could be used for the production of oxygen through the process of electrolysis.
Presently, the human waste generated on the International Space Station and other missions is discharged into the planet’s atmosphere where it gets burnt. It is piled up in big tanks and is released when the tank’s volume gets occupied.
For an inhabited moon base, which NASA has planned to set up sometime between 2019 and 2024, the space agency asked researchers at the University of Florida to examine the processing technologies which could be used to make something valuable out of the waste.
“We were trying to find out how much methane can be produced from uneaten food, food packaging and fecal matter. Methane can be used to fuel the rockets. Enough methane can be produced to come back from the moon”, said associate professor at the University of Florida, Pratap Pullammanappallil.
Pullammanappallil underlined other ways by which this new process could be utilized such as converting the waste into fuel for using it in towns or any other places.