Turning urine into electricity

Generating electricity from peeI recently wrote a post on how we could turn urine and feces into energy thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I also wrote about some similar efforts that are being done in Singapore.

Now, according to Grist and Ecogeek, four African teenage girls created a generator that runs on pee, turning one liter of the liquid into no less than six hours of electricity.

Albeit we don’t know exactly how much electricity was created – and how much it required to be created – this is still something noteworthy.

To date there are still 1.5 billion people lacking access to electricity around the world. And while solar is a perfect fit for most, it doesn’t provide electricity at nights ( for obvious reasons ).

What if our own bodies’ waste was used to power our cities and communities at night ? This is a bright idea !

Here is an extract from Ecogeek :

According to the Maker Faire Africa website, the machine turns 1 liter of urine into 6 hours of electricity and works like this: urine goes into an electrolytic cell, which extracts the hydrogen from the pee (specifically from the urea, one of the main compounds of urine).

This hydrogen is purified in a water filter, and then pushed into a gas cylinder. There, the gas cylinder pushes the hydrogen into a liquid borax cylinder, where moisture is removed from the hydrogen gas. Finally, the purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator to power it.

As with all new inventions in alternative energy, this generator isn’t a panacea for our global energy problems. NBC’s John Roach offers a “reality check” concerning the pee-powered generator, pointing out that the Maker Faire Africa website does not list the wattage produced, so we don’t know just how much the generator could power.

While Roach’s article tempers excitement about the pee generator, it does point to where this technology could be used effectively: wastewater treatment facilities where the pee already flows, ready to be put to use.

Perhaps machines like these could eventually become features of wastewater treatment facilities. Such a resourceful new invention that turns waste into electricity could turn wastewater treatment facilities into places where wastewater is not only treated, but where pee turns into power.

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