Speed Reads

Behold, the future

Space missions could one day be powered by poop

Forget poop-powered buses: Future space missions could be fueled by human waste.

Researchers at the University of Florida are developing a way to turn astronaut waste into biogas. Their findings are published in the journal Advances in Space Research.

Human waste during spaceflight is stored in containers and burned in space capsules, Medical News Today notes. But the researchers may have found a way to use the waste, which would be particularly useful during long-term space missions.

NASA approached the University of Florida team about creating a solution for human waste, and the scientists tested whether methane could be used as a source of rocket fuel. The results were shocking: The scientists discovered that they could produce 290 liters of methane for each crew member on a space mission every day for a week.

"Enough methane can be produced to come back from the moon," University of Florida researcher Pratap Pullammanappallil told Medical News Today. "Methane can be used to fuel the rockets." The new technique could even be used to generate electricity or heat from waste on earth one day, Pullammanappallil said.