menu

Bacteria Powered Rocket Thrusters

Bacteria Powered Rocket Thrusters
Design

An sustainable fuel system that makes use of potentially hazardous byproducts.

Lisa Baldini
  • 28 july 2010

In a move that builds on current ecological processes to create energy, Stanford researchers are developing a system that turns sewage waste into rocket fuel. Exploiting the fact that bacteria operate in high concentration in sewage waste, researchers are looking to turn their byproduct, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), into a viable energy source for rocket thrusters:

Stanford professor Brian Cantwell specializes in designing rocket thrusters that run on nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. He and some of his grad students wanted to use nitrous oxide as an emissions-free energy source. While nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, when it’s burned as rocket fuel, the only byproducts are hot oxygen and nitrogen.

The development of the substance as fuel is an answer to the problem that excess nitrous oxide had previously presented waste management systems. Although anaerobic bacteria are more cost effective for sewage treatment, their byproduct proved to be another costly and dangerous obstacle to resolve. The sewage/bacteria/rocket thruster fuel conversion system presented here accounts for each byproduct with as little environmental impact as possible.

Brian Cantwell

Popular Science: “Stanford Researchers Developing Rocket-Powered Sewage Treatment System”

Design
Trending

Lyft Gives Free Rides To Those Who Have Had Too Much To Drink

Advertising
Syndicated Yesterday

Banned Books Week Urges People To Seek Out Controversial Works

Joining the annual celebration of the right to read, US author Jessica Herthel called for 'more information, more voices' to protect diversity

Augmented & Virtual Reality Yesterday

Outdoor Camp Presented In 360° VR By X Games Gold Medalist

The video features campers riding BMX trails, zip lining through the woods, and performing big-air jumps

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Innovation Debrief: Boston

See All
Travel Yesterday

Boeing Wants Passengers To Control Their In-Flight Experience Through Their Phones

The airline manufacturer is embracing automation through a new generation of mobile travel apps

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

VR Surgery Videos Offer Interactive Medical Education

Dutch startup MDLinking hopes to globalize communication between students and medical care professionals with virtual reality content

Related Expert

Zach Lieberman

Art, Technology, Programming

Culture Yesterday

Use Twitter To Learn A New Language

tDict is an app that uses the social media platform to help you search for words in local dialects

Mobile Yesterday

This Startup Wants To Digitize The Loose Coins In Your Pocket

CoinOut is a new app that lets you save your extra change from cash transactions as electronic funds

Advertising Yesterday

McDonald’s Is Accepting Trash As Currency In Exchange For Burgers

An initiative in Stockholm is trying to keep streets clean while satisfying hunger

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Culture Yesterday

Google Is Using Virtual Paper Airplanes To Bring People Closer Together

The tech giant released an app that lets people throw their good wishes out into the world on the International Day of Peace

Advertising Yesterday

Get Paid For Traveling In San Francisco After Rush Hour

BART Perks rewards commuters who take early or late trains by giving them extra points to trade for money

Culture Yesterday

Artist Designs Covers For Books That Don’t Exist

Published by the fictional 'Specious Books,' the subversive works facilitate a conversation regarding the artistic integrity of graphic designers

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Food Yesterday

Bringing Food Innovation To America’s Crowded Milk Market

a2 Milk's Blake Waltrip, Chief Executive of the USA region, discusses how the distributor plans on bringing the popular drink for the dairy-sensitive to the States

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Financial Services Yesterday

Device Makes Digital Currency Feel Tangible

The concept gadget wants you to experience the highs and lows of spending money

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

NBC Is Planning To Stream The Presidential Debates In Virtual Reality

Partnering with AltspaceVR, the broadcaster offers another way for Americans to engage with the election season

No search results found.