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TRIVIA, BRAINTEASERS
& FASCINATING FACTS




Is rubbish really
warm to the touch?

Australia
Graphic: Australian Energy News

Yes. Touch the garbage and you will feel the heat generated by
millions of fast-replicating microbes as they gorge themselves
on the organic matter contained in your trash. Spores of bacteria
and microscopic fungi are out there perpetually blowing around in
a dormant state, but once they land in a nice, dank pile of
garbage, whether it be an outdoor compost heap or simply a kitchen
trash can, they immediately go to work colonizing the stuff.

Rubbish, you might say, is their medium. And as their numbers
inexorably grow, so does the collective body heat. The
responsible party here is aerobic bacteria, so as long as the
refuse heap in question is well ventilated, it's going to generate
warmth. Compost piles can reach temperatures as high as
180 degrees F, at which point the bacteria start to bake to death
in their own metabolic stew, and the temperature levels off.

Although garbage heat can be successfully harnessed —
groovy Whole Earthers have done experiments in which they've
heated water by coursing pipes through active compost piles
unfortunately the BTU output is not consequential enough
to turn heads at Texaco. Garbage does not contain as much
heat energy as coal, though. It takes one ton (2,000 pounds) of
garbage to equal the heat energy in 500 pounds of coal.

But what about huge urban landfills?
"Landfills, being oxygenless environments, don't produce heat
but they do produce awful-smelling sulfides and steady seepages
of methane that can be collected and sold to power companies,"
says Texas garbage consultant Bill Carter.
"In some places, the methane builds up so fast that wells
must be drilled deep into the landfill to keep it from blowing up."


~From: Factmaster

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Chelle Thompson, Editor ~ Jane Cate, The TechAngel
This publication originates in Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502 U.S.A.

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