Next Alternative Energy Source: Pee

Scientist develops method to pull hydrogen from urine

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 9, 2011 10:02 AM CST

(Newser) – Someday, you may be able to power your home by taking a leak. Ohio University biomolecular engineer Gerardine Botte says she has developed a technology that can pull hydrogen power out of pee, the Guardian reports. Just put an electrode in wastewater, apply a little electricity, and voila—hydrogen atoms will split off from the urea and ammonia in the urine, and can be used to power a fuel cell.

The process is similar to water electrolysis, except that it takes a lot less energy to make urine give up the goods. The main limitation: You need a lot of pee, which means the technology will be best applied in places with lots of bathroom-goers, like stadiums, airports, office buildings, or even animal feedlots. Another prime customer: cities. Botte is the chief technology officer at E3 Technologies, which aims to pitch “pee power” as a way of drastically reducing energy costs at wastewater treatment facilities.

There's gold in them thar bowls. Liquid smelly gold.
There's gold in them thar bowls. Liquid smelly gold.   (Shutterstock)
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