Leave it to a few enterprising kids to come up with a potentially new energy source – urine.
Four 14-year-old Nigerian students in Lagos recently came up with a process that turned a liter of urine into a fuel that generated six hours of electricity, according to Forbes. The key is capturing the hydrogen (safely). It isn’t the first time it’s been tried, but their results were impressive.
The teens’ method of capturing the hydrogen could be a big plus for developing countries that use generators much more often than countries like the U.S. But Forbes says there’s also the potential that U.S. automakers can benefit from “pee-power.”
Here are the four steps involved, according to Forbes:
• Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
• The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, and then into a gas cylinder, which looks similar to the kind used for outdoor barbecue grills.
• The gas cylinder pushes the filtered hydrogen into another cylinder that contains liquid borax, in order to remove moisture from the gas. Borax is a natural mineral, commonly used in laundry detergent.
• The hydrogen is pushed into a power generator in the final step of the process.
Forbes points out that gasoline-powered internal combustion engines can be converted to run on hydrogen relatively easily, which means eventually there could be another pump next to the one for regular, mid-grade, premium and diesel at your local station.
With such a plentiful, natural supply, one wonders whether the new fuel source could put a lid on higher gas prices.