Four African girls have created a generator that produces electricity for six hours using a single liter of urine as fuel.
The generator was unveiled at last week’s Maker Faire in Lagos, Nigeria, by the four teens Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, and Faleke Oluwatoyin, all age 14, and Bello Eniola, 15.
So how exactly does the urine-powered generator work?
Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.
And as for delivering the fuel itself? Well, we’ll leave that up to the consumer.
The Maker Faire is a popular event across the African continent, drawing thousands of participants who travel to Lagos to show their inventions and other practical creations.
As the Next Web describes it, the Maker Faire is intended to highlight creations “that solve immediate challenges and problems, and then works to support and propagate them. Put another way, this isn’t just a bunch of rich people talking about how their apps are going to change the world.”
Very cool! How much electricity do they get from 1L of urine? What’s in the electrolytic cell?
A similar idea appeared in a Yahoo news story about a year ago that could produce “0.25mA for 3 days from 25ml” which would be 10mA (milli-Amps) for 3 days from 1 Liter. If you have 110 volts at the outlet and you want to run a 60 watt bulb (or a laptop), you would need 545mA. It would take 54.5 Liters of pee to light your light for 3 days. That much urine would weigh 119.9 lbs.
31 October 2011
Urine-powered fuel cells could generate electricity and reclaim essential nutrients directly from human and animal waste, say UK scientists. The development could make wastewater treatment easier and cheaper, and provide an abundant source of locally generated power.
The team, led by Ioannis Ieropoulos and John Greenman at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, developed microbial fuel cells (MFCs) – which use bacteria to break down organic molecules and generate electricity – that could run on the organic molecules found in urine, such as uric acid, creatinine and small peptides.
Finding the right bacteria to munch these molecules was relatively easy – wastewater treatment plants routinely employ bacteria to do the job. But the crucial point, says Ieropoulos, is that the current processes are energy intensive, whereas the fuel cell approach could turn it into an energy-generating process …
The bacteria form a robust biofilm on the anode surface of the fuel cell, and pass electrons to the electrode as they respire and metabolise the fuel molecules in the urine. The team have found that smaller cells have higher energy densities, ‘so we’ve followed a path of miniaturisation and multiplication, building stacks of cells,’ says Ieropoulos. An individual cell can produce a current of 0.25mA for 3 days from 25ml of urine, so stacks of hundreds or thousands of cells could run on the amounts of urine available from homes, farms, or public toilets, for example. ‘Initially we’d probably be targeting local microgeneration,’ says Greenman.