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Composition of 'wind'

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862513.  Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:43 pm Reply with quote

On Friday's programme (4 November 2011) there was some discussion of the composition of flatus. It was said that the inflammable component in most people's farts was hydrogen (rather than methane). I cannot dispute this, but I thought that hydrogen was rather difficult to make, requiring high temperatures or electrical energy.
I am curious to know if anybody knows the mechanism by which hydrogen is generated in the gut. If this mechanism is understood, and there are bacteria doing this, then surely this method could be harnessed commercially.

Gooische Vrijgezel
862521.  Sun Nov 06, 2011 3:06 pm Reply with quote

grabagrannie wrote:
If this mechanism is understood, and there are bacteria doing this, then surely this method could be harnessed commercially.

There are no bacteria producing just hydrogen, and unlike your assumption it doesn't require a lot of power to produce hydogen. A car could produce hydrogen using H2O and its battery, while a car isn't a complicated, high-capacity power plant at all.

You may have been talking about a component to produce another gas, e.g. carbide Just add water.

865111.  Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:47 am Reply with quote

Clostridium species are anaerobic bacteria that inhabit the gut. Some species such as Clostridium butyricum produce hydrogen as part of their anaerobic metabolism. These bacteria are being used now to produce hydrogen from waste. e.g. Methane is derived from bacteria-like organisms called methanogenic archaea and the methane present is a wide variety of animal flautus, including some people, is excusively produced by these micro-organisms in the gut.

Anaerobic digestion of solid waste in sewage farms by archaea and clostridia yields methane and hydrogen that are collected and often used to drive powerplants at domestic waste treatment plants.

865126.  Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:27 am Reply with quote

Thanks dhdgsn - any examples of particular places where it is used?

865141.  Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:20 pm Reply with quote

Reply to Jenny

My local sewage treatment works Finham, Coventry UK had a powerhouse that was fed with gasses from the anaerobic digestion tanks. I presume that this is still the case although I have not visited the plant for many years and it has greatly expanded since last I visited.

There is currently a large academic interest in producing clean hydrogen from food waste but I am not sure if any of it has been commercialised as yet.

872827.  Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:41 am Reply with quote

A lot of people know that methane is a constituent of many farts. They also know that farts usually smell (bad). They therefore leap to the conclusion that methane smells (bad). However, methane is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas. The smell is caused by other minor ingredients of the farts.


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