Urine a candidate for energy independence

We thought we were supposed to have fusion-power for our DeLorean by now but it perhaps urine-power is just around the corner instead. [Gerardine Botte] has been working on creating hydrogen from urine, the world’s most abundant waste product. The voltage needed to break apart the urea atoms is less than half that of water, and the way we see it, you’ve had the added benefit of already using the water once before creating the fuel. [Gerardine] also makes the point that urine has phosphorus in it which could be another useful outcome of the process because it is needed as an agricultural fertilizer. Does this mean that you can repay your designated driver by fueling up his vehicle after a night at the bar? It’s probably better than doing the same for the battery of your cell phone.

Hackers produced the first vegetable-oil powered vehicles so we’re throwing down the challenge of producing the first pee-and-go automobile. Good luck and wash your hands when you’re done.

[Thanks Peter]

59 thoughts on “Urine a candidate for energy independence

  1. I’m pretty sure that drinking more water doesn’t have an effect on the amount of urea in the urine, other than lowering the concentration of it. Urea is a waste product of metabolism; increasing water intake doesn’t necessarily increase metabolic rate.

  2. I wouldn’t use the by-products of human urine as fertilizer. Concentrating all of the pharmaceuticals and street drugs in urine and dumping them on our plants? No thanks.

  3. Urea should not be decomposed, because it contains chemically bound nitrogen, an essential nutrient and fertilizer. If massive quantities of urine urea are decomposed into nitrogen gas, that might upset the global nitrogen cycle even more than CO2 emissions. In fact the Haber-Bosch ammonia process is made specifically to bind atmospheric nitrogen, to sustain current world population/food demands. It’s a very energy expensive process, and it supplements already bound, natural nitrogen found in urea. There are nitrogen fixing organisms, such as cyanobacteria/algae, and large scale solar cultivation of them might make it ok to waste urine urea and reduce reliance on fossil powered Haber-Bosch.

  4. Imagine cruising down the freeway and seeing some guy with his weenie plugged into the side of his car…”fill ‘er up” sure brings on a whole new meaning. The guys will never have to worry about running on empty again.

    The ladies may have some adjustment problems, but nothing a funnel and careful aim won’t cure. I can see it now: Some bare-butted fat girl bent over with her ass to the fender……

  5. I have always tried to stress the importance of proper sewage treatment to all my sustainability buddies. Most people dont realize how many valuable resources are in our own urine. This is one interesting approach but there are a lot more possibilities here.
    I notice that this idea went over a lot of peoples heads still. To clarify, its not that this would be a complete replacement of any fuel its a good idea because provides a use for something that was once a waste product. This is a win win scenario.

    To ever truly become fully sustainable as a society we need to come up with more ideas that turn waste into usable resources. And for gods sakes people, urine is sterile and you can drink it!

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