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Space Poop

A vital but unasked question is: what happens to human waste in space? Right now, astronauts bring it back home with them, but on longer space voyages, other solutions will be needed.

This will become more important in the future, when long space voyages are planned. Karen Miller writes that on a two-year trip to Mars, a crew of six humans will generate more than six tons of solid organic waste. Before we can venture out on long space trips, we'll have to figure out how to recycle it.

Astronauts will have to take along some of the recently discovered bacteria called Geobacteraceae, since it feeds on, and decomposes, organic material. Geobacter microbes were first discovered right here on Earth in 1987, at the bottom of the Potomac River. They have the unexpected ability to move electrons into metal, meaning they can both process waste and generate electricity. NASA is now developing a fuel cell created from the bacteria.

Right now, fuel cells on the International Space Station get electrons by stripping them off hydrogen atoms. But these new fuel cells can obtain electrons from organic waste. As the bacteria feed on waste, they pull electrons from the waste material. These electrons can then be used to generate electricity.

NASA's Bruce Rittmann says, "You have to treat the wastes anyway, so why not make the process an energy gainer, instead of an energy loser? By producing electricity, microbial fuel cells would make the process of purifying waste streams much more economical?Microbial fuel cells transform something we think of as undesirable into a resource."

Eventually we may solve our oil shortage problem by doing this at home. It will be a return to the outhouse?except this time it'll be a fuel cell.

You'll always hear the truth on Dreamland, and this week Linda Howe debunks the debunkers, who are trying desperately to think of another explanation for the Mexican UFOs. And subscribers get to hear MORE from William Mann, who tells the secrets of the Knights Templar and the Master of the Key.

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