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Alternative Energy… From Urine?

 

Three of the four inventors with their generator
(photo credit Eric Hersman)

First it was wind and water (yes, they both pre-date petrochemicals); then it was solar; then came Cow Power (electricity produced from manure-generated biogas). Now, thanks to the creative genius of four teen-aged girls in Africa, we have… Urine Power!

Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, and Faleke Oluwatoyin, all age 14, and Bello Eniola, 15 unveiled their generator last week at the Maker Faire Africa exhibition in Lagos, Nigeria. The generator can produce six hours of electricity from a single liter of urine.

How it works:

  •     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.

Now, before you gross out because it runs on *gasp* urine, think of this: this generator can be used by any human, anywhere, anytime. It does not rely on delivering electricity generated elsewhere through a grid. It does not rely on the availability of petrochemicals. It doesn’t even rely on the availability of wind, water or sun.

All it requires is a human to piss in a pot. That human could be a Masai tribeswoman, a Syrian refugee or a resident of Staten Island after Sandy. This generator can go where electricity is scarce to non-existent, and serve in disaster areas, too.

That sounds like an incredibly adaptable and amazing machine.Unlike wind, water, solar or other biofuels, it doesn’t require a lot of hardware or infrastructure. Wow.

Maker Faire Africa is devoted to finding, exhibiting and supporting the development and propagation of grassroots innovation solving Africa’s problems on the ground. So there is a better than even chance this invention will see manufacture and distribution. I hope so.

Congratulations to the four inventors. The world will be better for them being here.

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One Response to Alternative Energy… From Urine?

  1. adamas

    November 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    So it’s basically a portable generator powered by a small hydrogen fuel cell…Good idea, with or without the urine element