Bacteria Powered Rocket Thrusters
An sustainable fuel system that makes use of potentially hazardous byproducts.
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.