|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Question: What’s the source of the energy in nitrates and nitrites mined from caves? I am surprised that no one at Mammoth Cave N.P. could answer your question. The source for the nitrate bearing compounds mined at Mammoth Cave was bats. The material used to make gunpowder was bat guano (bat excrement). The guano is rich in nitrates and can be used to make gunpowder and fertilizer. Not only is bat guano from caves used to make these nitrate compounds but large accumulations of seabird guano are/have also been exploited from isolated islands. There is a host of information located on the internet concerning bats, caves, and the use of gauno as a fertilizer.
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