Scientists attempting to harness 'pee power'

Could hydrogen harvested from urine power the car of the future?

truck carrying portable toilets
Umm...fill 'er up? Flicker/thisisbossi

Scientists from Ohio University have come across a way to harvest large amounts of cheap hydrogen from a rather unlikely source: urine. Apparently, plucking hydrogen atoms from urine is much easier than getting it from water.

Gerardine Botte, one of the Ohio University professors actively developing this "pee power" technology, attributes this difference to urea, a cleaner of diesel emissions and major component of urine. A molecule of urea is composed of four hydrogen atoms and two nitrogen atoms. Applying an electric current using a special nickel electrode causes those hydrogen atoms to pop right off. The trick is that it requires about 97 percent less electricity to release the hydrogen from the urea molecules than from a water molecule--specifically 0.037 volt for urine versus 1.23 volts for water.

Imagine a future where fuel cell vehicles get 90 miles per gallon (of pee) and farms generate their own power from livestock waste. That future could be here sooner than you think. Botte currently has a working small-scale prototype that generates up to 500 milliwatts of power, and she plans to have large-scale examples up and running in about six months.

I imagine this will probably change the nature of stopping for a fill-up during a long road trip.

(Via Discovery News)

 

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