How to convert pee to electricity

By web gangsta | Published:

With natural disasters and other causes leading to disruptions of the nation’s power grid, more and more homeowners are looking at alternative ways to power their homes when the electricity goes out.

Some people that Web Watch knows have decided to install gas or diesel-powered generators at their homes, or otherwise have a large backup battery available to keep the lights and computer network going for more than a day or two.  Web Watch does support having alternative backup power available in some circumstances, but does wonder whether rushing into such a purchase is a prudent choice, rather than making a calculated decision as to whether you NEED to have such emergency power available to your household or not.

Power with Nature: Alternative Energy Solutions for Homeowners
Power with Nature: Alternative Energy Solutions for Homeowners

That’s not the choice of some people living in foreign countries where power is not a foregone conclusion. There are people who live in some areas that do not have power on any regular basis, and so they don’t have the same access to things more advanced countries take for granted.

That’s the premise behind the URINE-POWERED ELECTRIC GENERATOR that four young African girls created as part of a hacker convention called MAKER FAIRE AFRICA.

Click over to the Maker Faire site to see the photos of what these incredibly smart girls put together, a generator that can convert one liter of urine into six hours of electricity.

How does it work?  In essence:

  • Hydrogen is extracted from the urine.
  • The hydrogen gets passed into a gas cylinder, which then pushes it through liquid borax, which removes moisture from the hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen gas is then fed to the power generator, which outputs the electricity.

Sounds remarkable, right?

Well, it seems that at least one person has an ISSUE WITH URINE POWER, and points out what can be a few fallacies with the girls’ invention.

But even if there are diminishing returns from any sort of energy based on urine, if there is any benefit from taking a waste byproduct and converting any of it into some amount of energy, then wouldn’t that be a worthwhile project to take on?  As Gerardine Botte, a chemical and biomolecular engineering professor at Ohio State University proposed, urine power could come from any location with a substantial amount of critical pee mass.  Large office buildings, or sports stadiums come to mind.  200 to 300 people can output enough pee to generate 2KW of power.   Or use the pee from 1,000 cows to generate 40-50KW of electricity.

As many have said, every drop counts when it comes to energy conservation.  There’s at least one company – E3 CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES – that has made it its mission to convert common wastewater into hydrogen for energy.