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Japanese Company Turns Diapers Into Energy Source

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the smells-like-power dept.

Earth 65

greenrainbow writes "A Japanese company called Super Faith has developed a new machine that turns used adult diapers into a clean fuel source in about 24 hours. You simply place the bag of dirty diapers in the machine, and once set it motion it pulverizes, sanitizes and dries the material in the diapers and then forms it into small pellets that contain 5000 kcal of heat per kilogram and are meant to be used in biomass heating and electricity systems. Super Faith has reportedly installed two SFD systems at a hospital in Tokyo's Machida area. Each is capable of turning 700 pounds of used diapers — and everything they hold — into fuel every day."

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65 comments

It says adult diapers (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099790)

but even so, how efficient is this for a household using baby diapers and/or could this be connected to a general household 'waste' line? How much does it cost and can I get one.

Re:It says adult diapers (5, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099952)

It's like The Matrix but with old people.

SHIT! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099994)

Shit! Goddamn!

Get off yo' ass and jam!

Re:It says adult diapers (2, Funny)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100404)

It's like The Matrix but with old people.

Depending on your taste in animation, either the Solid State Society, or the Near-Death Star.

Re:It says adult diapers (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100582)

I was thinking a cross between the matrix and logan's run. Whaddya think of THAT silver-top?

Re:It says adult diapers (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101382)

More like Soylent Get Off My Lawn Darnit! Now what was I (pfffft) oh darn I better go take care (pffffplop) oh noes my britches!

Re:It says adult diapers (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101514)

It's like The Matrix but with old people.

Will it also work with the diapers worn by crazy astronauts as they drive across state lines to kidnap the person that's sleeping with their crush?

Re:It says adult diapers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102130)

COREA INVENTED IT FIRST!

Seriously, see for yourself:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0972542/ [imdb.com]

Corea? (1)

funehmon (648132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102616)

Wow...really?

YES!!! (2, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103046)

Finally I'm able to fill in the missing piece of my business plan that I've been working on for years:

1. collect poopy diapers
2. ???
3. Profit!

Re:It says adult diapers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32100056)

I doubt it will come in family-size. That is not something to fit in your laundry room.
The term "drying" in TFA makes me think of large dessicating chambers.

Re:It says adult diapers (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32100222)

this is just a guess...

they are burning the fiber in the waste material. buffalo "chips" (shit) were used in this same manner by the early settlers crossing the plains, the indigested plant material burned great!

baby's don't eat very much fiber for the first six months, so you wouldn't get as much out of them. still, the diaper material should release some energy when burnt, and baby's diet is high in fat, so it would be an interesting experiment! anyone have access to lab equipment? i've got plenty of baby diapers to give ya!

Re:It says adult diapers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32101762)

I got plenty of adult ones in case anyone needs >.>

Re:It says adult diapers (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101796)

Babies grow out of diapers pretty quickly. So unless you run a Daycare out of your house I doubt it would pay for itself before you no longer used it.

Yes, but is it a . . . (4, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099818)

. . . Depend-able energy supply?

Re:Yes, but is it a . . . (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32099970)

even more important, will it be flexible enough to deal with my inquisitive nature, and is it absorbent or will I end up with nappy rash? :(

Re:Yes, but is it a . . . (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100274)

Dignity will Prevail, you can Depend on it!

Re:Yes, but is it a . . . (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100562)

Well it is an episode of Dirty Jobs [discovery.com] just waiting to be filmed.

I don't want to imagine the 'maintenance' involved when this thing needs servicing.

Re:Yes, but is it a . . . (3, Funny)

AequitasVeritas (712728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100804)

The machines aren't meant to be serviced, they are disposable. Once you fill one up with crap, you wrap it up, toss it away, and get a nice clean one.

Re:Yes, but is it a . . . (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101460)

Once you fill one up with crap, you wrap it up, toss it away, and get a nice clean one.

I think you switched the definitions of 'machine' and 'diaper' ;-)

Seriously though, I don't see anything about these machines that looks disposable...got a link?

Re:Yes, but is it a . . . (3, Informative)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102760)

Here's a link [wikipedia.org] that explains how the machine is disposable, and why the parent poster felt it was important provide this information.

makes sense (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32100140)

Paper and plastic, the two main components of diapers, are already burned for energy in WTE plants. Poop is already used for energy after being treated at a wastewater treatment plant. Why not do it all in one step?!

Re:makes sense (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32107412)

Paper and plastic, the two main components of diapers,

Not exactly paper, and not much plastic.

SAP (Superabsorbent Polymer [wikipedia.org] ) is the expensive modern major ingredient. (from Wikipedia: "The largest use of SAP is found in personal disposable hygiene products, such as baby diapers, adult protective underwear and sanitary napkins") SAP actually locks away liquid instead of absorbing it, (you can't wring water out of SAP) and it costs a lot more than wood pulp, so the SAP-to-pulp ratio is usually a direct reflection on diaper quality/cost.

And if you want to get specific about it, iirc, there's very little plastic in a diaper (tapes, front panel, and elastics) - isn't vinyl the main material used in the backing? It's not latex for sure, since so many are allergic to it. The core of good diapers is somewhere around 50/50 SAP and wood pulp, which accounts for close to 100% of a diaper's weight. (until used of course!)

But to be more OT, I have no idea what the energy return is on burning SAP. Lots of "good ideas" for reclaiming garbage involve burning it, and that always comes back to what kind of emissions you're going to get from burning it. Not sure on SAP, but plastics sure burn nasty. (I'd expect SAP to be just about as bad since it's synthetic similar to plastic) And the diapers "contents" won't smell too good under the match either. The water content in diapers has to be a really high percentage, and that's really destructive to trying to burn things for energy since breaking H/O bonds takes away so much of the energy - which explains why they dry it into pellets before burning.

Oblig: We'll get to the bottom of this eventually.

Re:makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32125882)

Yes indeed, why not do it all in one step? Why dehydrate and sanitize and pelletize that shit if they could just burn it right away?

I don't know about this... (3, Funny)

JayJay.br (206867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100146)

It really looks like crapware.

Here we go again! (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100202)

I'd say this is a really shitty idea, but that would be a dup! [slashdot.org]

a dupe?? (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103074)

Are you saying this story is a big Number Two?

Anyway, you're right, this stinks. This company is full of crap.

Re:a dupe?? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103350)

Piss-poor excuse for an energy source, if I must say so myself.

Just one question... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100324)

What exactly does plastic, dried feces, and urine smell like when you burn it? Could this heat be used for cooking?

Re:Just one question... (3, Funny)

Sciros (986030) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101870)

I think it might already be used for cooking by KFC and White Castle.

Re:Just one question... (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32107450)

What exactly does plastic, dried feces, and urine smell like when you burn it? Could this heat be used for cooking?

well, burning urine smells like ...

like some laws of physics being broken.

What's up with the "View Picture" link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32100360)

I think this was part of some April 1 joke, but Slashdot forgot to change it back to "Read More". Now, every time I click "View Picture", I feel like I am about to be shown something that might get me in trouble. Are you guys going to ever fix that?

....Profit (1)

martinlp (904606) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100380)

1. Make lots of babies
2. Buy Diapers for babies
3. Buy SFD system
4. ......
5. Profit

Re:....Profit (2, Informative)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100746)

1, it's about adult diaper
2, Japan has much more old people than babies

Re:....Profit (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103144)

2, Japan has much more old people than babies

I thought that was Korea?

So they're burning them (2, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100496)

Wonderful.... burning is a great way to reduce trash, as long as you don't care about air pollution.

Re:So they're burning them (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32100678)

What type of air pollution are you concerned about? Particulate? NOx? CO2?

Re:So they're burning them (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32107460)

What type of air pollution are you concerned about?

most plastics have highly toxic emissions [anl.gov] when burned

Self-powered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32100618)

Can it power itself?

Those crazy Japs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32100624)

Those crazy Japs

Only adult diapers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32100992)

They should broaden their operations to include disposable diapers for infants and toddlers, too. I would imagine that the world produces more of the smaller variety nappies than for adults.

Re:Only adult diapers? (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 4 years ago | (#32109454)

They should broaden their operations to include infants and toddlers too ; in the long term this would single-handedly solve humanity's energy needs.

Energy Doesn't Stink (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101198)

With apologies to Vespasian, vis non olet.

Diapers? (1)

BurzumNazgul (1163509) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101468)

Think how many of those little 'yen' coins they'll find!

Two Questions (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32101930)

I wonder why Super Faith is targeting adult diapers specifically. Wouldn't it work for other kinds of diaper, too? And just how common are adult diapers in Japan, anyway?

Re:Two Questions (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32107368)

They're installing it in a hospital, so perhaps they have a lot of patients wearing adult diapers, saves having to help someone up to go to the toilet all the time.

Re:Two Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32108720)

Lots of old people in Japan. You can find tons of adult diapers in every supermarket/drugstore around here.

Re:How common are adult diapers (1)

Kopretinka (97408) | more than 4 years ago | (#32108950)

Even uncommon, there can be enough in specific places (e.g. in hospitals and care homes) to be used profitably.

Re:Two Questions (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32121744)

I wonder why Super Faith is targeting adult diapers specifically.

Maybe they're the only one who have that level of Faith? (and TFA thought it was a mis-translation...)

Net energy? (1)

Dunderflute (1001355) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102002)

Considering the amount of energy required to create the pellets and the cost to transport it, is this really producing energy and saving money for the company?

Man, the Japanese will eat anything! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102204)

Yuck!

I bet this is net energy negative! (1)

Terje Mathisen (128806) | more than 4 years ago | (#32102320)

It takes quite a lot of energy to completely dry/sterilize a diaper, I have a hard time believing you can get that back when burning the end product.

The article seems to imply that each diaper results in one fuel pellet, but this is obviously false: Each pellet is stated to contain 5000 kcal after processing, and since 1 kcal is what you need to heat one liter of water one degree (Celcius/Kelvin), this is sufficient energy to bring 50 liters from freezing to boil or enough to completely evaporate somewhat less.

Comparing with the numbers in the wikipedia article about energy density (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density) this seems to be equivalent to about half a liter of diesel or gasoline (46 MJ/kg) and significantly more than a kg of wood (18 MJ) or completely dry cow or camel dung (15.5 MJ)

OTOH it is better than landfills, but probably worse than simply burning them as-is together with regular waste.

Terje

So does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32102604)

... tha t it is kosher for me to start crapping my pants?

Efficiency, much? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32103268)

...and once set it motion it pulverizes, sanitizes and dries the material in the diapers and then forms it into small pellets that contain 5000 kcal of heat per kilogram...

Somehow I doubt that the energy stored in those pellets is more than the energy used to create them.

I guess it might be better than putting them in a landfill, but if that's the main reasoning behind this, we should be looking more into making the diapers biodegradable than wasting energy in a somehow "green" process.

Re:Efficiency, much? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32104730)

A match contains more energy then it takes to light it.

Some of this is a sunk cost in the making or the original diaper. SO for this purpose, you shouldn't take the energy cost of make the diaper into account because your going to be doing that no matter what.

Re:Efficiency, much? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32107480)

I guess it might be better than putting them in a landfill, but if that's the main reasoning behind this,

You may be onto something there. Japan is really short on landfills and graveyards, due to the astronomical cost of land over there. They're on an island, land's an extremely limited resource. It's no surprise they're really big on any recycling, even if it doesn't end up with the bonus of reclaiming energy.

I wouldn't describe this as clean power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32104592)

I wouldn't describe this as clean power

What about the stench? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32104818)

pulverizes, sanitizes and dries the material

I wouldn't want to be on the south end of this machine. Nor would I want to light a match anywhere near it. Anyone else picture the atomic mushroom cloud?

Something stinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32105344)

This seems like a really shitty idea.

Re:Something stinks (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32107496)

or at least a piss-poor idea.

Emissions (1)

L1feless (1746690) | more than 4 years ago | (#32114608)

What are the emissions of a units like this? I addition how much energy is spent in creating these pellets versus the amount of energy they produce.

Can you imagine... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32121728)

...a Beowulf cluster of these?

You gotta tell them! (1)

that IT girl (864406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32147412)

Soylent Brown is... oh.
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