Innovative generator generates 6 hours of electricity with a liter of urine, raises questions


Generating energy with every possible source and means is what is keeping researchers and DIY enthusiasts on their feet. While there is no shortage of sources readily available for conversion, such as sunlight, wind and heat, there are certain people who believe that human waste too holds immense potential as a renewable energy resource. Working on the same lines a team of four African teenagers claim to have built a functional generator that produces electricity from urine.

As 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 using a water purification filter and before using hydrogen to produce electricity, the purified hydrogen goes through liquid borax to remove moisture. The team claims that the generator produces six hours of electricity from just a liter of urine, without giving us any more details about whether the electricity is enough to just power an iPhone or it can run some household appliances too.

Since the details on the apparatus used and the end result are scant, with no video of the working prototype released, there are some who believe that the apparatus is nothing more than one of those projects that should work but actually don’t. Moreover, since the system makes use of hydrogen, the apparatus would have been much better if it directly used hydrogen produced using water electrolysis rather extracting hydrogen from urine.

Engadget points out that the apparatus has the potential to be a “pee-powered biobomb and will need more than its limited safety measures before you’re able to pick one up at your local hardware store”. While Engadget seems to believe that the apparatus can actually work, Nathan Lee, after going through the images and figuring out what exactly is being done there, has other thoughts and states that “While I’d love to believe the story – I just don’t buy it. There’s either something very wrong with their setup or it’s just pointlessly complex for no apparent reason.” Nathan further labels the entire thing as a “quack gadget”, which just like a perpetual motion machine, cannot actually work.

We’ve seen the use of urine as a possible energy source in the past too, but most of these researchers are based on the use of a microbial fuel cell and not an electrolytic cell to separate hydrogen from it. Till the time the team doesn’t come out with a video showing that the apparatus actually works along with telling us some of the details of the system, we’re keeping the discussion open. Feel free to share with us your thoughts about the system in the comments section below.