Can human waste be used as power source in space?

A satellite experiment will test if human feces can be a fuel source in space.

Washington: A satellite experiment will test if human feces can be a fuel source in space.

The experiment is part of a United Nations educational mission scheduled for launch next year.

Researchers will test how well microbes in human waste survive in space and whether they could offer a power source.

The project, spearheaded by a group of Florida researchers, will focus on bacteria, known as Shewanella, which can convert feces into hydrogen so it can be used in a fuel cell.

The first question is whether the microbes can survive the harsh environment of space.

"This is potentially something that could be used to take waste and generate electricity in some sort of deep space human mission," Discovery News quoted Donald Platt, program director for space sciences at Florida Institute of Technology, as saying.

The researchers plan to test the resiliency of Shewanella microbes, which will fly as one of two secondary experiments on the United Nations`` UNESCOSat mission, scheduled for launch next year.

The other secondary payload will test the space legs of another colony of microbes to see if they could have survived a migration between Earth and Mars -- or vice-versa.

Both experiments are contained in small, stand-alone satellites known as CubeSats, which weigh about two pounds and measure 4 inches on each side.


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