In the Future, Cars Will Be Powered by Human Poop

Department of Energy

Toyota might not be full of shit, but it hopes its future vehicles will be. The Japan-based company recently announced that it’s been experimenting with converting human waste into hydrogen to fuel their Mirai vehicles. In order to meet its goal of having only electric cars on the road by 2050, Toyota has placed a large emphasis on designing a new fleet of environmentally friendly vehicles.

By adding a microorganism to break down the same solid waste that normally gets removed from sewers and put into landfills, researchers at Toyota’s Fukuoka plant are able to break down the waste into a gaseous fuel called biogas, which are about 40 percent carbon dioxide. After filtering out the carbon dioxide they add water vapor, creating hydrogen which can be extracted from the leftover carbon dioxide.

Currently, the Fukuoka plant produces enough hydrogen daily to fuel 65 vehicles, but Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Toyota Mirai, told Quartz that the plant could produce enough to fuel 600 cars a day. While hydrogen cars are currently available in the American market, hydrogen gas is expensive and charging stations are scarce.

Of course, that’s only a small number compared to what it would take to create a fully hydrogen-reliant transit system. But hydrogen is only one of the possibilities of the future of vehicles not reliant on fossil fuels. For example, automaker Tesla has been pushing forward on creating a future where lithium batteries are the primary source of power for electric cars.

“The nice thing about Lithium is that it’s very plentiful. Lithium is the third-most common element in the universe,” Elon Musk said at a press conference in July. “The hydrogen is all bound up in water … so you don’t find naturally-occurring hydrogen on earth. And the helium.. doesn’t combine with anything and basically floats away. But lithium is metal and it won’t float away.”

An acquisition of SolarCity, which could charge more than 114,000 Teslas in a day, means that Tesla could make its plans for lithium dominance a reality in the coming years.

Shit power isn’t necessarily a new thing, but people are definitely taking notice now. Check out this video from University of California, Berkeley, researchers, explaining how poop-power could be the future.