During the race to build efficient cars at the turn of the 20th century there were many short-lived attempts at petrol alternative fuels, though only few actually worked. What you probably don’t know is that one alternative which did work had cars running on human excrement.

After hearing of the success of Benz's Otto gasoline engine in 1885 Dr. Serafino Poopagio (1856 – 1929) began building his Poop-car in Naples, Italy where he had established himself as a well respected inventor. Determined that gasoline was an inefficient and expensive fuel, Dr. Poopagio set out to develop an engine powered by the waste of modern civilization. The original designs called for the engine to be powered by rotted food from farm waste, but no tests ever succeeded. It was months later, while going to the bathroom, that the idea came to Dr. Poopagio to use human waste as fuel. After a few months of testing he perfected a secret chemical formula which when combined with human waste allowed his engines to actually burn fecal matter just as a gasoline engine burns petrol (fig. 1). He called this mixture Cadono Realmente Posteriore (CRP).

The following two years were very interesting for Naples automobile buyers. Two hundred people invested in Poopagio’s CRP car and two filling stations were erected. Fecal matter was purchased at a very low cost from the Naples Waste Management Council and mixed with the formula at the Poopagio CRP filling stations. Every fourth car on the road at the time was a Poopagio CRP. Interest swelled and the car was an immediate success, however the popularity abruptly ended.

The response from buyers was always positive; it was the reaction of the non-Poopagio CRP driving public which was the car’s demise. The complaints began to roll in from the general public about the smell emitted by the cars and the sporadic sputter of fecal matter onto the road. As the Poopagio CRP burned fecal matter the resulting emission had the smell of burned feces and methane. Though outrageously efficient the car was ultimately banned by the city and Dr. Poopagio moved on to other things.


Figure 1.

 

 

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