msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/15/2004 12:15:58 PM ET 2004-07-15T16:15:58

Britain’s Science Museum says it is considering a radical way of paying its hefty energy bills -- using visitors’ poop.

The central London museum said it was considering taking the waste from its 14 toilet stalls and converting it into electricity.

“With free admission it would be a great way for visitors to give something back to the museum and help keep the overheads down,” museum director Jon Tucker said in a statement. “We have almost 3 million visitors each year and have huge electricity bills.”

The museum said the plan would be to siphon off solid waste from the toilets, store it and then either burn it as fuel in a mini-power plant or turn it into electricity using a microbial fuel cell. Either way, it would emit fewer emissions than electricity from traditional power plants.

The power produced from the excrement of 100,000 visitors could produce enough to power 500 light bulbs, while also breaking down harmful organic matter, it said, adding that the idea came from similar projects in the United States.

"We have not done a feasibility study yet but will probably do one the next six months or so," said museum spokesman Ben Ayers. "We need to work out whether it will be cost efficient."

Poo power, as the museum dubbed it, is also explored in a new energy exhibit opening in late July.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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