Pete the Plumber finds himself in a precarious situation (doo-doo). Darned forest fires. He can’t get back down to The Big City where he commiserates with plumber friends to get the very latest in the biz. (Not sure when that will next be.) (Please Mother Nature…Please CalTrans, COOPERATE!...)
With a packed bag at the door, yours truly thought it was as good a time as any, then, to think and talk about doo-doo…while being in it. (My blog “Power From The People,” upstream, were earlier thoughts.) As climates change and population increases, one by-product of life, our doo-doo, is going to become an increasing concern to everyone, for myriad reasons, here on planet earth. It could be a bane or a bonanza. In this post I’ll tell you about some facts you might not know and give some links to companies and articles you can further pursue on the subject, if you wish.
High Up Sh”t
We’ve even got doo-doo on the moon! Yep. On one Apollo Mission, the astronauts, leaving the moon were just like my kids on the last day of a holiday. Always, when yours truly was packing the car (their Mum was too wise and remained in The Big City) to leave after camping ten days in the forest or on the shore, the kids invariably wanted to take home even more favorite rocks. (PtP had to worry about driving at night because of the the extra weight in the trunk blinding on-coming drivers…Pete’s low beams were too HIGH!)
Well, US astronauts once wanted to ‘take home’ 96 pounds of moon rocks. The ‘car’ (space capsule) was already fully packed. (I can attest to this scenario.) So what do our ‘Spacemen’ do? What every hero in filmdom has done when their balloon or aero plane starts losing altitude: start chuck’n!
What did our Spacemen have to ‘chuck’ from their craft in order to successfully get ‘air-borne’? Double that weight, in doo-doo. When the moon is finally an International Park, I hope the ‘rangers’ send NASA a bill (and a citation). Rude Americans. But thanks to another American, Bill Gates, we still have some esteem in the conscious world.
One of Mr. Gates’s funded developments in the sanitation context, aside his waterless toilet (see references), is a ‘machine’ that can make pure drinking water from doo-doo. Fresh water from doo-doo? (Doo-doo is 75% water.) His machine produces that water primarily for electrical generation. Now if he would team up with Professor Bruce Logan at Penn State, maybe someday we’ll be able to have both electricity and drinking water produced from our poop, in a cabinet outside our house in the middle of nowhere. And enough ‘water-to-air’ generator capacity might allow us to live almost anywhere.
PtP acknowledges the thought of drinking water made from your doo-doo turns most people off. Mr. Gates drank a glass from his machine just to demonstrate that the technology is here, now, and safe. (Matter of fact, the doo-doo water from Mr. Gates’s machine is actually safer than some wells and flows from municipal suppliers.) About 25% of this 75% figure is outgoing bacteria. Can you imagine the billions and billions of little bugs that represents? Bugs that worked hard to keep you healthy that you’ve put on your ‘sh”t list.’
Book Work Doo-Doo
One of the strangest facts about poop (if you happen to be a bibliophile) is a phenomenon nicknamed ‘the bookstore urge.’ Many readers may need no more words spent on the topic. It is well documented that not long after entering a bookstore you may be told by your bowels that it’s time to head to the bathroom. Many guesses why this is, but it is named the Mariko Aoki Syndrome, after a woman of the same name.
PtP recalls the days that he was installing espresso machines and public bathrooms in bookstores. This even accelerated the ‘need to go.’ It is/was a known fact that caffeine can start contracting the end of your intestine. The author wonders if he was putting in those machines and facilities just because the owners thought it was the ‘cool’ thing to do in those hippy times, or were those caffeine howitzers trained on the passerby to ‘aromatize’ them into the store and then ‘rush’ them into a choice and to the cash register? In time it was discovered the food business was best not mixed with books and the coffee fad faded.
Gold of Fools?
Now it’s not just the possibility of extracting fresh water and electricity from doo-doo that excites Pete the Plumber. Having fallen victim of the ‘gold bug’ as a youngster and still fighting to suppress it, it’s tantalizing to read that there are valuable precious metals in our doo-doo. (Yours truly has a battery powered gold pan with a self-contained water source.)
The American Chemical society heard from scientists that gold, platinum, silver and others were present in doo-doo at commercially viable amounts. (At one of Pete’s old mining claims he could get 2.67 ounces of gold and 4 ounces of silver in one ton of concentrates…at a time when it was commercially mined for twenty-five cents per ton.) It has been estimated that the doo-doo from one million Americans can contain $13 million in metals. Another: about $13 per person per year. This gives Pete hope. Capital knows no bounds on demand and greed. Might we experience another golden wave of ‘49ers’ by 2049?
Both Feet On The Ground
Back in 2015 the United Nations called for an end to open defecation by 2030. There are still about 950 million people doing it. Of that, some 650 million plus are in India. Will the goal be met? Know a bookie? Mahatma Gandhi urged his countrymen to clean up their act, this, before their independence from Great Britain: “Sanitation is more important than independence.”
Why wait though. Right now there is a research institute that will pay you $15K for all of your poop, for one year. Collection and two types of paperwork are a monumental consideration though.
But the bottom line (yes, that was a pun) is…
The direction that Big Capital might take for the demand of high tech treatment systems is already resulting in some ingenious stealth. There is a bull market in exotic play places for the very wealthy. Some of the most fabulous locations for these around the globe are in places with no infrastructure but growing government concern about pollution. A few smart companies are offering snap-together container contained treatment plants and similar snap panel versions (see references) which can make any place in the world a possible party place (dependent upon ‘fertile’ government stability.)
As For Going For the Gold
Who’ll be going for the gold? Or who might go for it? The author can’t stop thinking that with all that precious metal in our doo-doo, good old human greed is powering a lot of research right now on how to get it out. If we could get water, electricity and MONEY…Whoa! We need more Professor Logan’s and Mr. Gates’. Hey, the term ‘crowd sourcing’ could take on a whole new meaning, yeah? Did I hear a knock on my door?…
Bill Gate’s revolutionary waterless toilet, BUSINESS INSIDER, Chris Weller, Dec. 1, 2016
Some companies offering advanced portable/extendable treatment answers:
Peter Hemp is a San Francisco East Bay residential plumber and plumbing author and former R & D steam vehicle plumber. His hobbies are ocean kayaking and touring the Left Coast by bicycle.
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