IMPACT

African Teenagers Develop Pee-Powered Generator, Debut Device At Nigerian Innovation Fair

11/09/2012 01:25 pm ET
whiteafrican, Flickr

This is not your average science project.

A quartet of African teens have developed a generator that runs on urine. The talented young scientists -- Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola and Faleke Oluwatoyin, all 14, and Bello Eniola, 15 -- debuted their pee-powered contraption at Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, CNET reports.

Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which cracks the urea into nitrogen, water, and hydrogen. The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder. The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas. This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator ... 1 Liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity.

In order to cut down on the explosive risks associated with hydrogen, the team used one-way valves, although CNET pointed out it there might still be some danger involved.

Power generators are in far greater demand in Africa than in the United States, Forbes points out. Despite being Nigeria's urban center and wealthiest city, Lagos experiences frequent power outages, according to Time.

While definitely innovative in principal, pee power may not be efficient on a larger scale, NBC News reports.

“It is a high school project, so don’t take it [so seriously],” Gerardine Botte, a chemical engineer at Ohio University who invented the urea electrolysis process, told NBC.

Botte suggested the students "work with an engineer to understand the technology and its appropriate applications" -- which, in her opinion, is "as a way to make the wastewater treatment process more energy efficient."

Either way, the teens' project has gotten scientists talking, and that's a good thing, according to Next Web's Emil Protalinski.

Their efforts should not go unnoticed, because if this is what they’re doing as teenagers, I really hope they have the funding they need to be revolutionizing lives when they’re adults.

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