A Urine Powered Generator

A urine powered generator

Possibly one of the more unexpected products at Maker Faire Africa this year in Lagos is a urine powered generator, created by four girls. The girls are Duro-Aina Adebola (14), Akindele Abiola (14), Faleke Oluwatoyin (14) and Bello Eniola (15).

1 Liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity.

The system works like this:

  • Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
  • The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
  • This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.

Along the whole way there are one-way valves for security, but let’s be honest that this is something of an explosive device…

Comments
168 Responses to “A Urine Powered Generator”
  1. Felix says:

    Great work by the young ladies! This can be further modified for large-scale power supply.

  2. iloba patrick says:

    Doregos at it again. We indeed breed champions at the college of champions. Well done again girls.

  3. Chuck Boyd says:

    Explosive BUT really remarkable achievement by these young ladies!

  4. Toyotero says:

    Explosive device? Is that a play or words or hydrogen paranoia?
    H2 is no more so than a tank of gasoline, although leaked hydrogen quickly rushes towards the sky instead of sitting in a puddle or sticking to your skin. :-/

    This is an amazing and somewhat unbelievable machine. I hope that they publish technical specs.

  5. SiXiam says:

    Excuse my skepticism, but an electrolytic cell needs electricity to run and to be able to extract the hydrogen. While you don’t need nearly as much power to extract from urea vs water, it is not nothing. Also I question whether they have enough gas pressure to run a generator, which yes could be solved by building enough hydrogen over the “six hours”, but then you couldn’t just let it go from a plastic tube into the propane bottle, it would have to be pumped to a needed pressure that the generator can take. Those plastic tubes look like water line, which is ok for the urine section, but not for hydrogen gas. Maybe it you made a partial vacuum in the bottle, but then again that relies on pumping it down and the question of leaks. Lastly I wish I had better pictures of the feed into the generator. The set-up looks like a Honda tri-fuel generator.

  6. Mr Scientist says:

    “Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.”

    This takes a substantial amount of energy. This isn’t a straight forward power generation.

  7. chachie says:

    perhaps now that this can become an energy source countries with fresh water will become the new Saudi Arabias

  8. Shawn says:

    how much power does the generator output on average, what5 is its max load capacity in this instance? how much power does the electrolytic cell consume in order to keep up with the engines consumption of hydrogen gas? can varying the voltage or pulsing the voltage to the electrolytic cell perhaps cause this system to produce hydrogen faster then the engine can consume it? This is really wonderful and exactly what the world needs now, clean renewable energy that consumes a waste product.

  9. W.Stonehill says:

    A really brilliant accomplishment. I hope all four of this highly intelligent young ladies will go on to become chemists and engineers. They are a credit to their country and community.

    This is a brilliant use of available resources. I hope it becomes very widely used.

  10. Matt says:

    Stranger things have happened in this world. Hopefully this will give them notice so they can go on and go do greater things in life.

    The 13 year old in me demands this:

    They made a power supply out of pee. I cant stop laughing.

  11. Henry says:

    This is as bogus as any of the water-powered cars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxyhydrogen#Fringe_science_and_fraud
    The electrolysis uses more energy than is produced when the hydrogen is burned in the generator.

  12. john says:

    I’m a bit of a sceptic, and would like some clarification. Is there something special about the urine, as opposed to water? Where / how is the electricity produced for the electrolysis, specifically at startup, and how much of the generated power is required for continuous hydrogen production? What have they created here that is novel?

  13. Cris says:

    Where does the power for the electrolytic cell come from?

  14. Tumi Nkoane says:

    Great invention. Very relevant. Africa can stand tall

    Tumi, Johannesburg

  15. john doe says:

    And where does the electricity come from for the initial electrolysis generating the hydrogen?

    Unless the use of urine creates some extra chemical energy input to the process, then its a perpetual motion machine

    Somthing smells here, and its not just the urine

  16. Lindsy says:

    No where does the article claim it was a renewable energy source, or returning any worthwhile gains. What it does do, is applaud these girls for for their achievement. An awesome one. Nice work ladies!

  17. This is a very inventive idea. I would like to see more details about the project.

  18. casual reader says:

    Does this really work?
    I don’t understand the energy balance: where does the energy needed by the electrolytic cell come? Wherever it may come from, is this amount of energy less than what is produced by the generator on the other end?

    Besides, what is the advantage of using urine over using water?

  19. maht says:

    Here’s an article from 2009 when researchers proposed this in the US

    http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/news/2009/july/02070902.asp

    The important numbers : A … “nickel-based electrode to selectively and efficiently oxidise the urea. To break the molecule down, a voltage of 0.37V needs to be applied across the cell – much less than the 1.23V needed to split water. ”

    Two years later, not much progress : http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/waste-not-new-tech-taps-energy-from-urine/6481

    The company website :

    http://e3cleantechnologies.com/

    Dr. Gerri Botte holds the patents to the process so these girls had better watch out! ;)

  20. abram baloyi says:

    From the high school girls I say it’s an incredible achievement, let the big boys, so they say, take it from there…

  21. Vlad Sanchez says:

    God bless them!!! I can see the candor in their faces. Not knowingly, they’re inspiration for the future. I truly wish them the best.

    They should receive corporate attention and merited education to pursue their dreams.

    Let’s start a movement!

  22. Bistin_Futthole says:

    Some kid who’s never seen an R22 freon tank or propane powered gasoline to propane conversion.

    http://nathan-lee.com/blog/2012/11/07/urine-powered-generator-theyre-taking-the-piss/

  23. Dear Duro-Aina, Akindele, Faleke and Bello
    Unfortunately, … or fortunately maybe, Henry’s and similar comments above are correct. This system does not “work”. You should simply ask yourselves, why would you use more power to produce less power? For starters, the Internal Combustion Engine absorbs 70+ percent of the energy.
    But all is not lost. Maybe you wanted to run a hammer mill, or water pump, or similar machine but had no “petrol for the engine!” Then you could very well use electricity and your apparatus to run the engine.
    The girls have broken water down into it’s elements and have made a conventional ICE engine run on hydrogen gas. How many of you critics have done that? I pretty sure they have learned a lot of stuff from this project and am sure will come up with many other amazing products.
    All i have to say is Go Girls, and well done.
    Dom

  24. Vivek Kumar says:

    Remarkable and really a great invention i should say the technique can be used in large-scale too..

  25. Manimal says:

    This is a noteworthy accomplishment, but we must give proper credit to scientists Bryan K. Boggs, Rebecca L. King and Gerardine G. Botte of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Ohio University, who actually developed the process behind the urine-powered generator. Here is their technical paper: http://www.suttonfruit.com/pics/urea_electrolysis.pdf. It is therefore somewhat misleading to claim that the girls “invented” the process when in actuality they invented a practical application for an existing technology.

  26. Dominic Wanjihia, thanks for expressing it in the right attitude:

    respect and big thumbs up to you, Duro-Aina, Akindele, Faleke and Bello –

    you might not have invented a new power source, as this will not work, – but you show all the right qualities for maybe one day inventing something really big.
    may you meet teachers and mentors on the way, who can give you good critical feedback, and not just blindly celebrate – as unfortunately so many here do!

    respect and support to all who are dedicating their energy to building good stuff,

    sebastian

  27. Quite remarkable for such young things. I’m sure that a bit of tweaking could make it less explosive.

  28. Tina Jones Savadogo says:

    This is so cool. Please make sure it has been patent, copywrite and setup for Trade! We don’t want the vultures out there to come and take it away from you all! This is a blessed and wonderful creation that will help many African families, and help cleanup the environment where sanitation is concerned!.

    Tina S

  29. layogenic says:

    Oh ye wannabe skeptics: nobody was claiming this to be a fix-all, clean-energy solution to the world’s problems. This was a project done by four 14-15 year olds who successfully produced power via piss. Your need to look smarter than a group of teenagers (and generally failing, I might add) is really sad, especially when starting from erroneous assumptions about the project.

  30. chris says:

    Well done girls!!

    This is a very good step in the very right direction!
    Follow your dreams and go further, you are right, not the others
    who will tell you that you are silly!

    Maybe you can change the world!

  31. jeff says:

    This will never generate any net energy; it would be violation of the first law of thermodynamics. Electrolysis is using energy to break water (urine) apart into oxygen and hydrogen, combustion of hydrogen (with oxygen) recombines the two releasing the same energy. In the ideal (without losses) it would net zero energy.

    Bummer… but the important thing here is that young people are interested in science and engineering!

  32. Mardie says:

    The thing that is a bit misleading here is the label “Electrolytic Cell”. It isn’t a true electrolytic cell, that’s just what the girls called it. It is simply a vessel containing urine where natural bacterial action was allowed to occur resulting in a flammable mixture of gasses (not only hydrogen) that was then collected and purified to run a generator. Remember the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome where electricity was generated from pig excrement? It is the same thing. Also not mentioned is how long it took to collect the gas.

  33. Joseph says:

    gasoline doesn’t “stick” to your skin; it soaks into it, ensuring that the skin burns too. Of course, hydrogen does no such thing.

  34. S Ilangovan says:

    The invention by these young girls is wonderful. this kind of inventions should bu given importance and support so as to increase enthusiasm. However an alternative to fuel has been identified

  35. Akanimo Sunday says:

    The editor’s slant is very noticeable here.Of all the world stands to gain from here,what you can only see is an explosive device. Very bad taste. Good one girls.

  36. john - Yaounde - Cameroon says:

    Congrats!
    Strange how people who cannot even fix a broken chair criticize the ingenuity of four young colleges kids, girls for that matter. Those who invented the plane did not have it all right the first time. I praise your ingenuity, no matter how simplistic. Keep up, keep on, keep moving girls, You are the present and the future of Africa

  37. val says:

    Re Casual Reader’s query of why urine would be advantageous over water,

    1) according to http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/news/2009/july/02070902.asp , the hydrogen in urea is far far more accessible with far less energy
    but more importantly

    2) in many parts of the developing world water is not at all easily accessible, and clean water even less so.

  38. billy says:

    du courage et felicitation

  39. Rohit says:

    pretty awesome work. A real use of education, that very few people do.

    Regards,
    Rohit
    India

  40. Skeptic says:

    I dare say congratulations to the girls for this science experiment. However, we need to emphasize the need for rigor in Africa’s research efforts.

    See article here:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/futureoftech/african-girls-pee-powered-generator-raises-questions-1C6956099

    The girls be commended for practicalising a science they read about but definitely did not invent.

  41. Vi says:

    We should have something like that under every toilet. :P

  42. ARW says:

    Great work ladies, this will solve the problems of electricity not being use when a natural disaster hits and the going problem of human feces around the globe to not destroy the water we drink. Keep up the great walk!

  43. Good thinking on their part. Ingenieus but, Is it effective?

  44. Frank Monye says:

    Thomas Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park, who patented almost a thousand inventions in the US, did not have as much education as these four pretty lassies have. Basic inventions of this nature are like the acorn which grows into a mighty oak. Albert Einstein started like this in 1905 with his E = mc2
    which today is the very basis of all nuclear-powered inventions. This basic cannibalization of the electricity generating set has the potential of becoming the very basis of all urine-powered inventions in Nigeria and the world!

    Congratulations, my dear brainy lassies!

    Frank Monye

  45. Marius says:

    The article mention an “electrolytic cell”

    Since a electrolytic cell like which is used in this case is not a galvanic cell. Galvanic cell are like a battery that discharge, it converts chemical energy to electrical energy.

    If a battery charges it acts as an “electrolytic cell” that converts electrical energy to chemical energy. In order to produce the hydrogen in an “electrolytic cell” you need to feed it with electrical energy. This critical scientific fact has been left out of this article to create the impression that they convert urine into electrical energy using “electrolytic cell” and I do not believe that.

    If it’s a electrolytic cell they have to supply it with electrical energy to create the chemical energy (hydrogen) which they convert back into electrical energy in the generator. This experiment will loose a great deal of energy in the process not to mention how useless the high speed of hydrogen combustion will be on such an engine.

    Urine can also be seen as organic waste filed with bacteria and that makes me think that if organic waste is converted into chemical energy then the concept is “Microbial electrolysis cell” MEC and not “electrolytic cell”. But a Microbial Fuel Cell MFC can convert virtually any organic waste directly into electrical energy without the generator.

    Perhaps it is a MEC and not a electrolytic cell as mentioned- you can order MFC hobby Kit for $44 online and turn soil into electricity in a small fancy little container. But electrolytic cell will require energy to be supplied and large amounts in order to get energy out. Electrolytic cell is not particularly a source of energy. a MEC or even better an MFC can work at a sewage plant, even MFCs are used at waste water outlets at where large amounts are produced, this concept is nothing new. Don’t just teach the girls how to Google, teach them how to use a credit card and save a hell lot of effort. I will give them 9/10 for patience for getting it to work.

  46. P.S. Taker says:

    So, 14 year old girls who started going to school a year or two ago and don’t have electricity in their own homes have figured out how to create hydrogen gas from urine, extract the moisture from the H2, then pressurize it in the fuel system of an Internal combustion engine? Oh and at last years Maker Faire Africa they created the worlds first fusion reactor and two seven year old boys cured Cancer. Piss off.

  47. Jim says:

    This is fake. Electrolysis cells require more energy put in than can be used.

  48. Amin says:

    Now my urine is energy, 2$ per/L
    Customer…

  49. dangermanumber6 says:

    All you naysayers. The urine is being used as the electrolyte solution, because that’s what urine is, and electrolyte solution is what’s in all car batteries. When you charge a car battery, Hydrogen is produced and vented through the caps or the top. You’ll notice they’ve removed the top off their battery and it looks like they sealed it with some sort of blue stuff. The generator is charging the battery which only needs about 15v to do so. Sure they probably had to start the generator with something other than the urine in the car battery system, like a previously filled tank of hydrogen, but once it’s started, you can switch to the urine system. You could start the hydrogen production with a bike generator system as your initial source. As for the pressure of the gas, overcharging can blow up a battery with gas pressure itself as I found out in 8th grade when we made our own batteries, and I figured I’d “supercharge” mine with twice the voltage. The container was about the size of a small V-8 can and clear plastic so I could see the bubbles, so I’m sure a liter of electrolyte/urine at 25-30v would produce a good amount of hydrogen. It’s not a perpetual motion machine because you need to add more urine, so those comparing it to that or splitting water molecules are comparing apples to oranges. It’s total doable in my opinion.

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] In this article you can see the specifications of the Urine Powered Generator. The effect this could have on a village is hardly computable. With a sustainable affordable energy source villages will not only be able to survive but also it would provide ample rooms of growth. Though it is to be said that this isn’t an instant awnser if you were to only skim the article you could see some major flaws in the development. The fact that it was made by four fourteen year old girls only adds to the skepticism of the article. Still it is a cool read and also an idea of how third world countries could advance. […]

  2. […] At time like this – a dark November evening with the wind coming up – everybody on the island is probably thinking about power outages and generators. What if you could make your own generator and run it on urine? Four girls in Africa did. From MakerFaire Africa: A Urine Powered Generator. […]

  3. […] invention, quacks, scam, skeptic, urine powered generator Saw this pop up on reddit – Four teenagers in Africa invent a Urine powered generator. Students with their Urine powered generator at Maker Faire Africa in […]

  4. […] the moisture from the hydrogen gas. This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator. A Urine Powered Generator : Maker Faire Africa Ingenious. […]

  5. […] de Suecia importando basura desde países vecinos para alimentar sus plantas energéticas. [Maker Faire, vía dvice] Más […]

  6. […] MakerFairAfrica: 1 Liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity. […]

  7. […] ????????????????????????????????? TNW ?????????????? Make Faire Africa ?????Make Faire Africa ??????????????????????????????????????????????? […]

  8. […] hat have you built lately? 14-year-olds Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin, and 15-year-old Bello Eniola have created a urine powered generator. […]

  9. […] 4 African Teen Girls Create A Urine Powered Generator… […]

  10. […] Što sve radi mladi u Africi, dok se vi zajebavate na svom iPhoneu pogledajte na MakerFaireAfrica.com […]

  11. […] Eniola (15) – have invented a unique urine-powered generator, which was later demonstrated at Maker Faire Africa 2012 that took place in Lagos, […]

  12. […] A Urine Powered Generator : Maker Faire Africa. Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle +1EmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Categories: Guest Posts, South Africa | Tags: articles, Bathroom, blog, Blogger, Cape Town, Home, inspiration, stories, Toilet | Leave a comment […]

  13. […] invento faz parte da feira “2012 Maker Faire Africa”, e elas apresentaram sua mais nova criação diante do público que foi prestigiar o evento. […]

  14. […] more on – Maker Faire Africa Tags: african entrepreneurs, featured, Nigerian entrepreneurs, urine powered generator […]

  15. […] – Four African teenagers invent a urine-powered generator. […]

  16. […] can use this to spy on you. – Mr. Fusion (sorta) cell phone charger. – Four African teenagers invent a urine-powered generator. – Follow Bridget Carey on Twitter and check out CNET Update every […]

  17. […] – Four African teenagers invent a urine-powered generator. […]

  18. […] – Four African teenagers invent a urine-powered generator. […]

  19. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  20. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  21. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  22. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  23. […] ditenagai oleh urine (betul, urine alias air kencing). Hasil karya ini dipublikasikan dalam ajang Maker Faire Africa 2012yang berlangsung di Lagos, Nigeria, pada tanggal 5-6 November kemarin. Duro-Aina Adebola (14), […]

  24. […] one hour of electricity from one liter (about a quart) of urine. The pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator's […]

  25. […] to information supposing on a Maker Faire Africa website about a pee-powered system, one liter of urine provides 6 hours of electricity, yet a site […]

  26. […]  |  Maker Faire Africa  | Email this | Comments Share this: This entry was posted in Gadget by […]

  27. […]  |  Maker Faire Africa  | Email this | Comments […]

  28. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  29. […] – Four African teenagers invent a urine-powered generator. […]

  30. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  31. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  32. […]  |  Maker Faire Africa  | Email this | Comments Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInStumbleUponPinterest […]

  33. […] et eksempel på at innovasjon kommer innenfra, ikke gjennom veldedighet. Fire afrikanske tenåringsjenter, deltagere i “Maker Fair Africa”, Afrikas største inno… Previous Post Kokepunktet – Samfunnsinnovasjon, 5. desember […]

  34. […] have stunned the country with their invention of a urine powered generator at this year’s Maker Faire Africa, an event which shows off innovations, inventions, and initiatives that solve immediate challenges […]

  35. […] it might sound, the process isn’t that simple. The generator, according to the team, works by first extracting hydrogen from urine using and electrolytic cell, then purifies hydrogen […]

  36. […] to Maker Faire Africa, an annual event which showcases inventions, the system works like […]

  37. […] (15) have stunned the country with their invention of a urine powered generator at this year’s Maker Faire Africa, an event which shows off innovations, inventions, and initiatives that solve immediate challenges […]

  38. […] to Maker Faire Africa, an annual event which showcases inventions, the system works like […]

  39. […] pee-powered product made its debut at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, this week. A post on the Maker Faire Africa blog describes the generator’s […]

  40. […] to Maker Faire Africa, an annual event which showcases inventions, the system works like […]



Leave A Comment