Feeds

Urine a goldmine for fuel-cell materials: boffins

Drink beer. Make fuel. Repeat until dependence on fossil fuels ends

Boost IT visibility and business value

Over the centuries, urine has been collected for all manner of unpleasant industrial applications. Now, a new research paper suggests pee could be a big contributor to the future of carbon fuel-cell technology.

According to this paper in Nature, doped collections of carbon atoms recovered from human urine have the right kind of properties to replace expensive catalysts in fuel cell applications.

The boffins explain that carbon nanostructures are a popular research angle for fuel cells, but commonly use platinum as a catalyst – and this is an expensive doping material.

However, the boffins say that urine offers a cheap and effective workaround, offering the chance to make metal-free doped carbon that's suitable for fuel cell applications. Their proof-of-concept demonstrated that they could use urine to create “highly porous carbon containing heteroatoms such as N, S, Si, and P [nitrogen, sulphur, silicon and phosphorus] from human urine waste as a single precursor for carbon and multiple heteroatoms”.

The study, led by Jong-Sung Yu of Korea University, also highlights a bunch of environmental benefits that would flow from treating urine as something to be mined rather than discarded: it would reduce the pollutants in urine from reaching water bodies, and provide a chance to remove leftover drugs that haven't been metabolised fully.

The researchers assert that as well as fuel cells, the doped atoms they recover from urine are also suitable for supercapacitor and Li-ion battery applications, “which can make our technique financially, technically, and environmentally favourable.” ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?