Ladies and gentlemen, not only can your poop power vehicles and be used as fertiliser, but it can also constitute a source of precious metals. Your poop might just be invaluable.
A new study presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society has revolutionised the role of human faeces. According to the researchers, human sewage contain metals like gold and silver together with rare elements like palladium and vanadium. The metals that are possibly found in the faeces have not yet been documented though; the scientists still have to identify all of them. A further step would be to devise ways to retrieve them. Well, we cannot just flush down precious metals, can we?!
The recovered-from-poop metals would then potentially solve a number of problems including decreasing the dependency on mining and having the amount of harmful metals in fertilisers lowered.
“If you can get rid of some of the nuisance metals that currently limit how much of these biosolids we can use on fields and forests, and at the same time recover valuable metals and other elements, that’s a win-win,” lead researcher Kathleen Smith said in a statement.
As seen through a magnifier, human faeces contain some gold and other invaluable metals that might bring in hundreds of millions of dollars. Photo credits: AFP/ Therence Koh.
The origin of the metals in questions is as yet unknown. But, who cares about that when human poop just turned out to be extremely expensive?! The metals, namely silver, gold and platinum, are found in such a quantity that would make of them commercially viable to mine.
Microscopic gold-rich and lead-rich particles found in human waste.
The team of researchers that have the intention to harvest human poop for metals will soon use data gleaned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey to add up to their own findings. The former data revealed that biosolids consist of the following:
- Around 28-30 mg of silver per kilogram of waste
- Up to 638 mg of copper
- About 36-49 mg of vanadium
“The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit,” said Kathleen Smith.
Other researchers had already estimated the worth of the metals found in waste materials obtained from 1 million people from the US; that would make around $ 13 million per year.
So, isn’t it time yet for us to stop flushing down such wealth?! Meanwhile, Internet trolls can start using the “Stop Flushing Your Poop” hashtag.