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.

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