Taking the p*ss ... for energy

Nigerian schoolgirls come up with a new way of producing power from urine. The Sceptic Tank investigates

14 Nov 2012, 10:37

urine powered generator - photo Maker Faire Africa

Intros are particularly difficult for the Tank. So now we've got that first sentence out of the way, let's just skip onto the next bit, which is a lot of fun and may even contain some Bad Words, depending on just how liquid lunch was today.

You see, three Nigerian schoolgirls have literally gone where no-one else has gone before, by inventing a urine-powered generator. Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, and Faleke Oluwatyoin, all 14, and 15-year-old Bello Eniola came up with the unique device as part of innovation event Maker Faire Africa.

Apparently, you can get six hours of power from a litre of the yellow stuff, which is around a half to two-thirds of what the average person produces each day.

Hydrogen is separated out from the urine in an electrolytic cell, purified and pushed into a generator to create electricity. The user is then politely reminded not to attempt to fill the tank from across the room and to please wash his hands afterwards.

Of course, there are problems beyond the basic hygiene the Tank so struggles with – you still need power for the electrolysis process, while hydrogen has a nasty tendency to explode.

Still these are surmountable problems and we're pretty sure it's a better use of waste than this Korean 'faeces-wine' (you honestly wouldn't believe the things we do for research...).

In fact, judging by the state of the gents at The Tank's Soho basement, the only long-term flaw might be losing a great deal of this valuable resource to inaccuracy.

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