Fuel Cell Powered by Cow Dung

Now, I know what you're thinking.....will I one day have a laptop or car powered by something that has passed through a cows arse? The answer is yes, possibly, but not in manure format. In fact, it's not the manure that's the answer, it's the bacteria.

According to new research (imagine the funding meeting for that one!), half a litre of gastric juices from a cow can generate 600mV. It doesn't sound like much and it's not really, it's about enough to power up half a rechargeable AA battery.

The Science Bit...
The power is generated when electrons are freed after the bacteria digests vital cellulose in the stomach. Scientists have found that it's easier to get at the bacteria once they've passed through the cow, making the end product a better source than the stomach fluid. Simple, yes?

The scientists involved did manage to run a fuel cell powered by dung for "well over 30 days without a decrease in the voltage output". The cell generated 300-400mV. However, while a constant output was produced from the dung, the issues come when you take a look at the size of the cell. Bearing in mind that they produced less power than is needed for half an AA battery, the 2 fuel cells measure 30cm high and 15cm in diameter each. Not particularly practical just yet.

This is certainly a step in the right direction considering our constant reliance on Petrol and Diesel to power most of our vehicles. If fuel cell cars are the planet-saving future then this could mean more cows along the roadside, although it seems like any real solution using bacteria to power anything is many tens of years away. This research looks to have just scratched the surface of what's possible.

More from...
The Register
Wikipedia on Fuel Cells
Ford on Fuel Cells
General Motors on (the amazing!)Hywire


Thanks for paying for the

Thanks for paying for the Norwegian welfare system ;)

I like any attempt for

I like any attempt for alternative fuel. We are way too dependant on petroleum.

although apparently not...

Yes, i saw that crazy man.

Yes, i saw that crazy man. Hmmm.... Very worrying.

Cow shit? That's for pussies

Cow shit? That's for pussies

Check out the legalities of

Check out the legalities of it all!

It is illegal to use anything for road vehicle fuel without paying duty on it. To pay duty on vegetable oil, you have to jump through a couple of legislative hoops. Here's what you have to do:

Register with Customs and Excise

Keep your reciepts

Fill in a monthly tax return

First, get notice 179E and form EX103 from HM Customs & Excise.

Fill in the EX103 declaring the purpose of your business as a private individual using vegetable oil as a motor vehile fuel and stating the description as jerrycan(s) marked SVO in porch/shed/wherever.

Attach a letter explaining that the oil is a diesel quality liquid fuel produced from biomass or waste cooking oil, the ester content of which is not less than 96.5% by weight; and the sulphur content of which does not exceed 0.005% by weight.

Explain that your feedstock is commercial cooking oil and/or waste cooking oil, and give an estimate of your monthly usage.

For an individual, this will be small: less than 100 litres. Don't forget to include a contact phone number in case they have any further questions.

The completed EX103 should be sent to HMCE, Mineral Oils Relief Centre, Dobson House, Regent Centre, Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne NE3 3PF.

Every month, you will be sent an HO 930. It's a moderately scary-looking form but filling it is is dead easy. It's detailed in the 179E leaflet:

At the bottom of the list of duty types, make the blank row read: ORR 33589 Biodiesel and then your quantity and calculated duty payable. As I write, duty is 27.1p per litre. Sign and date the declaration, write a cheque to The Commissioners of Customs and Excise, and pop the form and cheque in the post.

Keep your receipts: You're required to keep them for six years. It's simplest if you just keep the paper receipts, stapled together so you have a bundle for each HO930 you've submitted.

And that's it! The forms look opaque but it's not hard really. If you get stuck, Customs' national enquiries help line is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday for all general questions on 0845 010 9000 (+44 208 929 0152 outside UK).

No point purchasing new oil,

No point purchasing new oil, if you can use used oil...

I think you can use normal

I think you can use normal cooking oil bought from a supermarket but you have to declare that you're going to use it as fuel when you buy it and they'll charge you extra (duty). Other than that i've heard good things.

Cars can run on chip fat

I have a friend in the UK who converted his diesel car to run from some sort of cooking oil. It cost him around £300, and some time to fit the converter, which came from Germany, I think.

It just makes a slightly odd smell.

Watch out for the upcoming

Watch out for the upcoming Nano technology article...

Nano technology

The future of nano technology will take care of size and efficiency.

If GM call their fuel cell

If GM call their fuel cell car a hywire would a cow pat driven engnie be called a HayWire?

you wouldn't believe how

you wouldn't believe how many shit puns i chopped from that post!