• Question: will running a car or bus on cow pat work and why?

    Asked by kieran98 to James, Mike, Suze, Will on 22 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: James Marrow

      James Marrow answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      It would do, but you might need a lot of them! You can burn cowpats (people do for cooking fires), and it doesn’t contribute to global warming as they are not a fossil fuel. They contain undigested plant material, which burns well.

      BUT: if you don’t burn them correctly, you get lots of pollution from smoke. That’s a real problem in countries that use them for cooking fuel.

      It might be better to get bacteria to digest them and produce methane as a fuel.

    • Photo: William Eborall

      William Eborall answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      This will work – in a way. We can’t put the cow pat straight into the car, that wouldn’t work. What we can do though is put lots of cow pats into a big tank with bacteria. The bacteria will digest the cow pats and as a result give off a gas called methane. This is the gas that’s used in cookers in our homes. We can then use the gas to either drive the car or bus directly, or we can use it in a generator to make electricity which we can use to run the car or bus.

    • Photo: Suze Kundu

      Suze Kundu answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Can I add a question? Will it smell funny?

      I know it sounds weird, but there is a guy that collects used up cooking oil from restaurants, etc, filters it all so that it’s clean (no chips left over in it), and then taxis can use it for fuel, but apparently each fuel smells of the take away that it’s come from, so you can have fish and chips fuel, or chinese take away fuel…

      Cow pats wouldn’t smell too great!

    • Photo: Mike Dodd

      Mike Dodd answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hey Kieran, another interesting question about how to power a car/bus. As James said, you could power a car on cow pats, but you would need a lot of them.

      Here is an interesting story from today. KLM are going to use used cooking oil in some of there airplanes, which is cool 🙂 Although would it mean the plane smells of fish and chips hehe.