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Author: Science Alert Staff
Date: 02 June, 2014

Would you drink water made of cow manure? Could you tell the difference? Researchers have developed technology that turns cow poop into drinkable water.

Flickr/ tomwachtel CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 -

Flickr/ tomwachtel CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 –


Ten years ago researchers at Michigan State University started working on a technology that would turn cow manure into clean water and remove elements such as carbon and ammonia to be used as fertilisers. And a few days ago they finally announced their results.

The McLahan Nutrient Separation System is an anaerobic digester combined with an ultra-filtration system, and an air-stripping and reverse osmosis system that extracts energy and chemicals from cow manure to produce water that is clean enough for livestock to drink, as well as fertiliser.

So far the filtration system can turn 378 litres (100 gallons) of manure into 189 litres (50 gallons) of water, but the researchers believe the system can produce up to 246 litres (65 gallons).

Yahoo! News reports that the technology will be commercially available later this year.

Cow manure produces massive amounts of methane gasses that are slowly poisoning our planet. This system could put an end to it and help farmers cope better with drought.

“If you have 1,000 cows on your operation, they produce about 37.58 million literes (10 million gallons) of manure a year,” said Steve Safferman, an associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering who is involved in the project, in a release. “About 90 percent of the manure is water but it contains large amounts of nutrients, carbon and pathogens that can have an environmental impact if not properly managed.” The system also captures ammonia that would otherwise be lost in the environment.

Would you drink water made out of cow manure?

Read at ScienceAlert