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Human Dung Used To
Generate Electricity at South African School-Probably
Summary of the eRumor The story tells of a
teacher in a poor area of South Africa who wanted his students to
He got Dell to offer to donate computers, but he needed electricity.
After a failed attempt at solar power, he settled on a solution that
used human dung to powere generators for the electricity to run the
As with many eRumors, this story
doesn't specify where this took place or any names of the people or
companies involved except Dell.
It's quite possibly true, however, because using human dung as a
source of energy is not unique to this South African village.
The process is known as biogas (or bio-gas) generation and is being
used in many parts of the world where normal electrical service is
Collected dung can emit methane gas which can then be used to run
There is a project in the Maphephetheni area of Natal Province in
South Africa that could be the one the eRumor is based on.
It involves more than the use of biogas technology and included
solar technology as well.
Some homes were set up with solar equipment but Myeka High School
not only got solar capabilities but also a biogas system that was
connected to 16 toilets and two inlets for cow dung.
Last updated 2/22/05
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
There is a small valley in South Africa surrounded by
mountains - very rural - very poor. They had a high school with
about 1,000 students but no indoor plumbing or electricity. They
did have a very dedicated teacher who wanted to make life better
for his students. He did a lot of research and discovered that
in order to make a better life for his students they needed
computer skills. In order to learn computers, they needed
computers and electricity. He contacted Dell and was told they
would give him a grant and furnish a computer lab for him if he
got electricity. Next he tried to find a way to get electricity.
He discovered solar panels. A company was willing to give him a
grant for solar panels. The energy from the sun was able to work
the generators. He then had electricity. Problem: They could only
work the computers when the sun was shinning and it seemed
like the solar panels always had problems and they had no money
to fix them. The panels were removed. This teacher went back
to the drawing board. He next discovered that cow dung
produced a gas as it decayed. The gas could run the generators.
Problem: Not enough cows in the valley to produce enough dung.
This teacher really thought! He may not have enough
cow dung but
they did have 1,000 students. Just maybe they could produce
enough dung to provide the gas. (Can you believe it?) A company
came in and volunteered to see if they could work out a plan.
They relocated all the outhouses to a central area and placed
them in a circle facing outward. Each out-house was connected
by pipes to a large collection area. Above this area was a small
container, which collected the gas. The gas now drives the
generators to produce electricity and the electricity runs the
computers. All high school students are now computer literate
and able to get jobs and into universities in the bigger cities.
The computers are used 7 days a week.
On the weekends, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and
flock to the school to take classes and read their e-mail (and
of course use the out-houses). This valley is still without
plumbing or electricity but they all use the computers. The
teacher? Well he has a new job: He travels to other small
communities and shows them how to generate electricity.
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