Poop-power hydrogen gets things moo-ving in Japan

Japanese cars could soon be driving around powered by poop rather than petrol. That’s according to researchers at industrial gas manufacturer Air Water, who say converting manure from cows, pigs […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

Japanese cars could soon be driving around powered by poop rather than petrol.

That’s according to researchers at industrial gas manufacturer Air Water, who say converting manure from cows, pigs and chickens into hydrogen on the dairy farming island of Hokkaido could potentially help decarbonise the region’s transport sector.

In January, the Environmental Preservation Centre started a pilot project to develop the necessary infrastructure for this conversion to be possible – the waste is fermented to create biogas, its impurities are removed and it is then combined with water vapour to produce hydrogen.

A cow produces enough dung annually to power a fuel-cell vehicle for about 10,000 kilometres, about the average that a person drives in a year in Japan.

Stored in cylinders, this gas can then be easily transported and used anywhere.

Tomohiro Inoue, Manager of Air Water Engineering, said: “Excreta is normally industrial waste but here, it’s a precious energy source.”

The pilot project will run until 2020.