Turning pee to power – Students in Africa build a revolutionary urine powered generator

4392977440_1c37eaa61cIt isn’t too often that you hear of teenagers halfway around the globe creating something cool from almost nothing.

Today however is different, four teenagers (The oldest of whom is only fifteen) have developed a very amazing way to generate electricity in their remote village in  Africa.

The process is extraordinarily simple – Take waste urine (pee) ,  feed the urine into a electrolytic cell , crack the urine into its base elements – Nitrogen, water & hydrogen. Filter the hydrogen through a normal water purifier, filter the hydrogen then through liquid borax, then feed the now pure hydrogen into a run of the mill generator.

The end result is extremely flammable, pure hydrogen which can be used to power a generator, or a airship.

While this process isn’t exactly new (It was initially developed in Athens Ohio in 2009) one of the more amazing things is the fact that these teenage girls are using materials that are all easily found in their remote part of Africa.

One of the most crucial features of this device is that it does not used platinum to generate the hydrogen. Here in the US, our electrolysis cells contain highly valuable platinum which costs a whopping $1550 per ounce. Instead, the girls are using nickel, which is extremely abundant, and quite cheap at only $7 per pound. On top of this, they are not feeding the pure hydrogen into a expensive fuel cell, rather a cheap Chinese generator. The result is cheap, rugged and will run off 6 hours from one liter of urine.

This technology will be of great use in Africa. It could also have a important role in here in the United States, but not for consumers. Instead, this could be utilized to produce additional electricity in space, as hydrogen fuel cells are becoming more of a mainstay in space exploration equipment.

Only time will tell if this technology becomes widespread. At any rate, we think this is pretty cool when kids develop something amazing.