Friday, July 1, 2011

Quest for the PooBomb

Methane. Scourge of the livestock industry or the energy source of the future?

Just what is methane? It is a flammable gas, similar to propane, most often associated with poop. You can burn it in a stove or heater or whatever else you can pipe it into. Some large garbage dumps have piping laid out underground and the gas from the rotting food, baby poop from the diapers, vegetation and everything else is collected and run through the pipes and used to heat buildings.

There is so much methane that it's infiltrating our bodies and polluting the earth. That's what the environmentalists would have you believe. They know all about methane. They are always spouting off that as each cow on the planet eats and poops its way through the day, it puts off 500 gallons, or 500 cubic feet, or 500 CC's, or 500 pounds or 500 something or other of methane every day. This is contaminating the atmosphere and is certain to be the death of us all.

Well, what can we do about it, can we all start using it to heat our homes? Of course you can. All you need to do is to move next door to a garbage dump and pipe it from the dump into your house. If you happen to not have a dump handy, you can start your own, tossing all of your poop and rotting food into a pile in the backyard. Then you merely stick a pipe into it and run it into the house.

What if I don't want a large pile of poop and rotten food in my yard? Is there anything else I can do to get rid of this ungodly methane? That is precisely the question I asked myself recently. You see, I am an ardent admirer of the human race, at least the female species and I took it upon myself to do something about this problem in order to save mankind.

This led to a conversation with my friend Jim and it proved to be an eye opener.

Jim had recently built a bio digester and in an improvised experiment carried out over a few days, collected enough methane to run his stove for a few minutes. "Pretty much, all you have to do," he said, "is to put the stuff in a container, add some water and let it rot, or ferment or whatever you want to call it." Jim had fastened an old inner tube over the end of a pipe leading from the container and as the inner tube expanded, it told him in no uncertain terms that there was methane collecting. He simply stuck another pipe into the other end of the inner tube and connected to his stove.

A bio digester seemed like a good idea but there had to be a better way to get rid of some of this dreadful methane. Burning it sounded awful boring. Might there be a way that we could somehow put this awful methane to a better use, to dispose of this gas in a better fashion? Could I think of a way to make the process a little more exciting, a little more lively? Could it perhaps be contained in something and ignited in a more interesting way? Like perhaps some sort of explosive device? Something simple yet functional and stimulating to the senses? Jim thought that it was certainly possible.

"Why can't we just put some cow crap and water in a two liter bottle, drill a hole in the lid and glue a fuse in it, then leave it out in the sun for a week or two and light it?" I asked Jim.

I could see his mind working, analyzing the data, figuring equations, estimating longitudes, latitudes, trajectories, the angle of the sun and the price of Budweiser. "I don't see why that wouldn't work," he replied.
Thus, the concept of the PooBomb was born.

Plastic bottles were procured. Fuse holes were drilled, fuses were glued and we were ready. We have at our disposal an entire pasture chock full of cow, I mean, bio digestible material. All that was needed was some way to get it into the bottle.

Eager helpers were recruited and after putting on rubber gloves, proved quite amenable to the idea of assisting in this important scientific experiment. Then the plan fell apart. The eager assistants disappeared, they had to go home. It was a failure.

But, like Thomas Edison, we will persevere. We have our raw material. The concept is sound and science is on our side. The helpers will reappear at some point. Success is within our grasp. When the planets are aligned correctly, it will happen, I have faith in this.

Stay tuned.

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