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The weird way scientists want to use chicken poop

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You may think the only place poultry poop belongs is in the trash. But a group of scientists funded by Landmark University in Nigeria envision a more environmentally friendly use for chicken waste: turn it into biofuel, they say, and use it to run generators—and maybe, one day, cars.

Related article: We could be converting our food waste into gas, electricity, and fuel

As it is now, chicken poop can prove problematic for farmers: feces can contain nutrients, hormones, antibiotics and heavy metals that wash into soil and surface water—the exact places you don’t want it to be. But if the droppings can be scooped up and repurposed, they can go from dangerous to useful in a (relatively) easy few steps, the scientists claim in their research, published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Energy & Fuels. All you have to do, they say, is combine the poop with Mexican sunflowers, another problem product.

Related article: This grocery store fuels its delivery trucks with food waste

Mexican sunflowers are beautiful, ornamental plants, but they have the capacity to grow like weeds and threaten agriculture across the entire continent of Africa, where the plants were introduced decades ago. When the sunflowers and chicken feces are digested together by anaerobic microbes though, biogas is created, the scientists found. In other words, they could kill bad two birds—chicken poop and a pesky plant—with one stone—anaerobic microbes.

This article originally appeared in Foodandwine.com

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