Teen project sparks WORLD-WIDE PEE-POWERED HYPEGASM!
Urine generator will save the world, apparently
File this one under “pending”: a group of African students has shown a hydrogen-powered generator at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos that uses urine as its fuel source.
Maker Faire Lagos put the story here, crediting Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and Bello Eniola with the build.
The basics are clear enough. Urine contains hydrogen, which can be extracted by electrolysis. If you’re then careful enough, you can most certainly store the gas, and burn it in a generator.
Three of the African school-girls with their generator kit.
Source: Maker Faire Lagos
Where The Register would like help from someone with the right training is in this rather startling claim: that one liter/litre (strike out whichever spelling you dislike) of urine is sufficient to run the generator for six hours.
That’s got some debunkers working overtime. There’s a critique of the apparatus here, for example – but it seems to me to miss the point: there’s quite an abundance of hydrogen in water, the main constituent of urine.
To cite the Fountain of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, you don’t need a high voltage to separate hydrogen from water, so I can accept it as “plausible” that you could run the hydrolysis kit from portable solar or wind (with an efficiency loss along the way).
Why not simply use solar/wind power to directly provide 240V? Well: hydrogen (if you’d solved the storage safety problem) is a handy way to store a fuel against needing power when the sun’s not shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Fair enough …
And El Reg can also understand why, in a place like Africa where water is scarce, it might be preferable to use recycled rather than potable water.
It looks to El Reg like the whole thing has been seized on as a “save the world” technology, rather than being praised for what it is: a pretty good teenage science project that should get full marks in its own right, without gadget-fans’ myth-making. ®
Already been asked
It looks to be around 450 ml. Not sure what size generator they are using, but a nano-generator might do it..
I sent an email to Nigeria looking for clarification and to my amazement, I discovered a long lost business acquaintance of Sir Edmund Hillary and they need my assistance with transferring a large sum of money where I get part of the proceeds and the rest will be used to create a urination inducing drug and long catheters to power these new generators. I've already sent my bank account number and personal details. I guess I won't be hanging around here with you sorry suckers much longer ... I'm in da money !
If there was lots of free energy in urine, bacteria would be jetting out of the gully in every street corner.
" ...use the hydrogen to drive a vehicle or in other areas where batteries are less practical."
Compressing and then storing hydrogen under pressure takes energy and infrastructure. It also takes maintenance effort on the compressor and storage containers to prevent them from becoming extremely dangerous, instead of just very dangerous. I'd prefer batteries if at all possible.