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A science lab in the Peruvian village of Pachacamac is powered by guinea pig poop, according to wired.co.uk today. Almost one thousand guinea pigs provide two scientists, Carmen Felipe-Morales and Ulises Moreno, with 3 tonnes of excrement a month that can be converted into energy to power their lab and equipment.

Felipe-Morales and Moreno research renewable energy and plant genetics in order to make differences in the everyday life for the people of Peru, but options like wind turbines and solar panels aren’t necessarily viable in less developed areas of the world. So the two scientists have been looking at alternatives.

Even though guinea pig is a popular menu choice in the South America, the army of rodents housed in a purpose built enclosure aren’t destined for the dinner plate. They lead a stress-free life munching specially enriched plant waste, and produce valuable pellets of poop for conversion into power.

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The scientists feed the dry pellets into an adapted bio-digester and add water. The result is production of methane gas – used to power light bulbs, stoves and an electric generator – and a brown liquid that can be used as plant feed. Using this method 3m3 of methane can be produced a day and 50 litres of plant feed can be produced a week, which the village can then sell.

But before we all go out and buy a guinea pig to try to reduce our energy bills in the UK, we must remember that over a thousand hamsters power one lab. Maybe it’s worth investing in a larger pet – say an elephant?…

Mike Brown

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