University of Guelph researcher Emma Allen-Vercoe and her team have devised a method for creating artificial poop for use in fecal transplants, a promising therapy for people whose intestinal flora have been damaged by illness, antibiotics, or other therapies. The recipe involves a combination of indigestible cellulose and a starter culture of fecal bacteria. These are mixed in an airtight chamber and passed through a "robogut" -- a mechanical analog of the human digestive system that produces the finished turd.
Emma Allen-Vercoe: It contains things like the indigestible cellulose that’s left after a meal has passed through your digestive tract and down to your distal gut, the end of the line for digestion. It’s pretty nasty-looking. It’s a brown sludge, it’s got lumps of starch, and it’s kind of gloopy. It doesn’t look or smell very appetizing.
PS: How do you turn that sludge into a fecal transplant?
EAV: Robogut. Robogut is made of six big beakers full of that sludge that are warmed to body temperature. And we add the bacteria from a small amount of human feces. Since oxygen is poison to anaerobic gut bacteria, each vessel is sealed to make it airtight, while sensors monitor temperature and acidity.
Meet The Researcher Whose Fake-Poop Project Could Save Your Life [Ian Chant/PopSci]
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.