New Research Could Turn Urine into Rocket Fuel

New Research Could Turn Urine into Rocket Fuel

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If you run out of gas on your way to Mars, the simple solution could be tossing back a few beers and letting nature take its course.

Back in the 90's, scientists discovered a startling kind of bacteria called anammox (anaerobic ammonium oxidation) that devours ammonium, the chemical in urine that gives it its particular pungency, and spits out hydrazine, a propellant used in many space vehicles.

Obviously, this caused quite a stir. These bacteria could potentially take human waste, useless aboard a spacecraft, and convert it to fuel. Unfortunately, it was quickly revealed that the bacteria were nowhere near efficient enough at the conversion to produce any sort of usable or useful quantity of fuel, and the furor died down.

Now, scientists at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands have announced that they have isolated and identified the particular protein complex that allows these anammox bacteria to do their stuff, and this new knowledge could allow researchers to make a better and more efficient version of the bacteria.

Professor of microbiology at the university's Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Mike Jetten, has stated that the amount of hydrazine produced by the bacteria is "nothing like enough to get a rocket to Mars," but that the new research could change that. "Now we are accurately determining the crystal structure of the protein complex," he said, "Perhaps we can improve the production process if we have a better understanding of how the protein complex fits together."

So maybe we won't be flying urine-fueled spaceships anytime soon, but who knows? The future could be filled with trips to Mars and beyond, all powered by something we've been casually flushing away for millenia.

And if future astronauts eat too much asparagus, it could be a strange-smelling future indeed.

Source: Physorg.com

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But... then what is Bear Grylls guna drink?

Verily, I do declare you ruined my jarate joke immediately!
But, yeah, its amazing what science can turn up!

Effeciant? I do believe you meant efficient.

FogHornG36:
But... then what is Bear Grylls guna drink?

Well, unless he's in a space shuttle, he'll probably be allowed to keep drinking his favorite beverage.

"If you run out of gas on your way to Mars, the simple solution could be tossing back a few beers and letting nature take its course."

Or simply replace thouse bear with fuel.... you probably way less full from thouse bear that you would gat from the same volume of full... just a guess lol

Note to self, never let anyone piss in to the gas tank again.

mjc0961:
Effeciant? I do believe you meant efficient.

FogHornG36:
But... then what is Bear Grylls guna drink?

Well, unless he's in a space shuttle, he'll probably be allowed to keep drinking his favorite beverage.

That I did. Good catch. Edited to fix my derpishness.

Wow... If only we could run our cars off rocket fuel

So every trip to the bathroom could be a trip to the moon...

Interesting....

Bio-engineered bacteria to solve a fuel crisis/space travel? Sounds like a zombie movie premise.

So does this mean it's hoarding time? I'd hate to find out 50 years down the line that I've been flushing liquid gold down the toilet.[1]

[1] this is sarcasm

I can totally already convert urine into rocket fuel, just use the toilet after me on a Sunday morning.

Hmmm, never mind going to Mars, what about just an improvement in waste water management? That's no small area in of itself.

This appears to be taking the piss.

Turn it into an energy source then I'll be impressed.

Space ships run on vast amounts of fuel, as in hundreds of tons. How much beer are you planning on bringing along exactly?

And suddenly Mars got a Wee bit closer.

ehh, hydrazine isn't used much as a mainline fuel anymore. too volatile. mostly it's used in maneuvering jets now.

thaluikhain:
Hmmm, never mind going to Mars, what about just an improvement in waste water management? That's no small area in of itself.

Well, because hydrazine is both explosive and extremely toxic...thus not much of an improvement if all you're trying to do is sanitize wastewater...

Hydrazine does have other industrial applications, mainly in the production of certain plastics. That's where I'd expect a process like this to be most applicable.

aashell13:

thaluikhain:
Hmmm, never mind going to Mars, what about just an improvement in waste water management? That's no small area in of itself.

Well, because hydrazine is both explosive and extremely toxic...thus not much of an improvement if all you're trying to do is sanitize wastewater...

Well, yeah, but wastewater is only waste because nobody wants it. Turn it into something people might want for something, it's not pollution, it's a resource.

Is it just me, or is the future sounding everyday more and more like a bad joke from Family guy? Because I honestly think so...

I can only imagine a spaceship powered by urine running low on fuel,and it's captain saying something along the line of:"Quick,everyone grab the nearest six-pack and start drinking!"

I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite way to refuel the Normandy. -unzip-

yes this fuel will work for my space program soon everyone will be going to the moon

Ser Imp:
And suddenly Mars got a Wee bit closer.

Oh stop taking the piss out of this story.

FogHornG36:
But... then what is Bear Grylls guna drink?

That's no joke. In order to make that long trip to Mars, astronauts will have to drink recycled waste water, i.e. their processed pee. If they're burning that for fuel, they'll die. It's self defeating, really.

Awww! So that's why it burns sometimes... o.o

My Saturday nights are no longer a complete waste!

See what I did there?

doggie015:
Wow... If only we could run our cars off rocket fuel

Maybe we can...

Somebody call the mythbusters.

If they can't do it they'll make a car that runs on rockets.

Ninja'd by the OP. Who here DIDN'T think of Jarate? ;)

1. Take new bacteria
2. Drop it into sewers
3. Wait a day or so
4. Light a match
5. umad?

For the record, most of the mythbuster rocket cars have ended in horrible tragedy.

I can hear it now " Oh no, we don't have enough fuel to pull off this landing, everybody take a piss"

Though really, it could be an interesting, even if a little gross, take on fuel economy.

Talvrae:
"If you run out of gas on your way to Mars, the simple solution could be tossing back a few beers and letting nature take its course."

Or simply replace thouse bear with fuel.... you probably way less full from thouse bear that you would gat from the same volume of full... just a guess lol

But then you wouldn't have any beer.

 

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