A Moment of Science

Could Today’s Sewage Be Tomorrow’s Rocket Fuel?

Fact or fiction: Scientists may have found a way to power a rocket using poop. Fact!

NASA Spaceship blasting off

Photo: NASA

One day waste could be used to power a rocket.

Houston, we no longer have a poop problem! Researchers may have found a way to use today’s sewage for tomorrow’s rocket fuel.

Scientists have always had an ecological problem with raw sewage. That’s because the chemical byproduct of the bacteria that gets rid of the waste is nitrous oxide — and nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a greenhouse gas.

Researchers believe that the oxygen, nitrogen, and methane that will be produced by the new process will be less harmful to the environment compared to nitrous oxide. They say that oxygen and nitrogen are less harmful to the atmosphere and hope the methane created could help power other wastewater plants.

Currently, sewage is left to decompose in an oxygenated environment. During this decomposition, wastewater treatment plants mix oxygen into raw sewage to help bacteria break down the waste. The new plan would not use oxygen which means it’s faster and cheaper.

So, just think, every time you flush you could be helping power a rocket!

Read More:

  • Finally! A Self-Sustaining, Sewage-Processing, Poop-Powered Rocket (Discover)
  • Engineers use rocket science to make wastewater treatment sustainable (Physorg)

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Margaret Aprison

Margaret is a graduate of Indiana University with a degree in Telecommunications and a minor in Psychology. The daughter of two scientists, Margaret has been surrounded by the subject her entire life. She enjoys social media, writing, television, and, of course, science!

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