How Green

Turning Used Diapers Into Energy

A machine devised by Japanese firm Super Faiths converts used diapers into pellets that can be burned for energy.

A machine devised by Japanese firm Super Faiths converts used diapers into pellets that can be burned for energy.  (Super Faiths)

Need a clean source of power? Why not turn to disposable diapers? 

Citing not just the abundance of infants but also an increasingly aging society, a Japanese company has developed a technique for transforming used disposable diapers into energy. 

The SFD system by oddly named Japanese company Super Faiths moves used diapers (and their contents) through a three-stage process, first pulverizing them before desiccating and sterilizing them, to ultimately create energy pellets that can be burned in special boilers and stoves. 

Super Faiths claims that the final, odorless product becomes less than 1/3 the weight and bulk of the original diapers and contains 5,000 kilocalories of heat per kilogram.

CNET's Crave blog points out that Super Faiths has installed two SFD machines a hospital in western Tokyo's Machida area. The machines take in a combined 1,400 pounds of used diapers per day. Diapers in plastic bags are dumped into the machines, which produce material for the pellets about a day later.

The company is not alone. 

Total Care System of Fukuoka, Japan, has established a way of dissolving diapers in a special solution and turning them into pulp and plastic for use as a construction material and as solid fuel, according to a Japanese newspaper. 

And U.K. firm Knowaste has a similar plan for the nappy, though the company concentrates primarily on turning used diapers into recycled products such as building materials. Knowaste announced plans last month to expand via an $18 million facility to recycle diapers -- the first in such plant in England.

Poo power seems to be on the rise.