Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pee Is The New Power Source

I picked this up over at MSNBC. If they can actually produce this on a large scale it would revolutionize our way of looking at power. Plus destroy the existing oil and power industries. A few cows, a couple of solar panels and the pee power converter and you would be completely energy independent.

Forget gas, batteries — pee is new power source
Scientists can create cheap hydrogen from urine for use in fuel cells

By Eric Bland

Urine-powered cars, homes and personal electronic devices could be available in six months with new technology developed by scientists from Ohio University.

Using a nickel-based electrode, the scientists can create large amounts of cheap hydrogen from urine that could be burned or used in fuel cells. "One cow can provide enough energy to supply hot water for 19 houses," said Gerardine Botte, a professor at Ohio University developing the technology. "Soldiers in the field could carry their own fuel."

Pee power is based on hydrogen, the most common element in the universe but one that has resisted efforts to produce, store, transport and use economically.

Storing pure hydrogen gas requires high pressure and low temperature. New nanomaterials with high surface areas can adsorb hydrogen, but have yet to be produced on a commercial scale.

Chemically binding hydrogen to other elements, like oxygen to create water, makes it easier to store and transport, but releasing the hydrogen when it's needed usually requires financially prohibitive amounts of electricity.

By attaching hydrogen to another element, nitrogen, Botte and her colleagues realized that they can store hydrogen without the exotic environmental conditions, and then release it with less electricity, 0.037 Volts instead of the 1.23 Volts needed for water.

One molecule of urea, a major component of urine, contains four atoms of hydrogen bonded to two atoms of nitrogen. Stick a special nickel electrode into a pool of urine, apply an electrical current, and hydrogen gas is released.

Botte's current prototype measures 3x3x1 inch and can produce up to 500 milliwatts of power. However, Botte and her colleagues are actively trying to commercialize several larger versions of the technology.

A fuel cell, urine-powered vehicle could theoretically travel 90 miles per gallon. A refrigerator-sized unit could produce one kilowatt of energy for about $5,000, although this price is a rough estimate, says Botte.

"The waste products from say a chicken farm could be used to produce the energy needed to run the farm," said John Stickney, a chemist and professor at the University of Georgia.

For livestock farmers who are required by law to pool their animals' waste, large scale prototypes could turn that urine into power within six months.

Smaller versions likely won't be available until after that, so the average consumer probably shouldn't start saving their pee just yet.

"It is not a solution for all our cars," said Stickney, "but it is the kind of process which will find many applications and will make for a greener world."
© 2009 Discovery Channel

17 comments:

Dragon said...

Thjat means all we have to do is piss on em...Yahoo!

sungod23 said...

Much as I hate factory farms, this is an amazing development. Hope it trickles down to the wee folk. ;>]

HermitJim said...

Just goes to show that if we really try, the solution to many of our problems can be solved...even if the sloution seems strange at first!

Good post!

Anonymous said...

This would be great - a renewable resource, supplied by the family. Just think of the potential - lasic drug users could probably provide enough urine to power the whole neighborhood. The Power to Pee - Awesome!

Anonymous said...

This man Big Bear is attempting to get you people involved in an illeagal conspiracy. Big Bear does not live in Colorado or anywhere in a shack in the country. He is a government agent living in a large city back east. He is trying to get you folks to do the illegal things he says he is doing like not paying off debts, building dwellings without proper permits etc. This is so he can enable his government and corporate handlers to gain control over your assets and lives.

Mayberry said...

Anon 4:32, give it a rest. Obviously nobody believes your insane babbling...

I expect this to get squashed by the oil companies, or legislated into oblivion. Self sufficient power sources are the bane of a domineering totalitarian government....

BGM said...

Awesome! Now people won't get mad when my dog pees on their car.

The Urban Survivalist said...

This is the last we'll ever hear about this.

Anonymous said...

>Blogger The Urban Survivalist >said...
>
> This is the last we'll ever >hear about this.

That's why it is up
to you to take the trouble to download Dr Botte's white papers and
the videos her students have put up
on youtube and run with it on your
own.

They have a working prototype. You
now know it works. You can sit back
and wait for someone to hand it to
you or you can roll up your sleeves
and getrdone on your own behalf.

BigBear said...

This is so simple and elegant.

Think of the millions of manufacturing and construction jobs that could be created as we retooled our infrastructure to utilize this technology.

Virtually eliminates our need for oil and natural gas. Completely removes our need to be fighting in the middle east.

Anonymous said...

The equivalent to one gallon of
gasoline will cost ninety cents
with this method (sorry no free lunch)

Now that you can inexpensively generate the hydrogen you can play
with fuel cells, just burn it to
run one of Mike Brown's steam engines
or marry this method to research at
the University of Utah which converts waste heat to electricity

http://www.livescience.com/technology/070604_sound_electricity.html

Anonymous said...

We have not heard from Big Bear in a while as he is out of the country on another assignment from the "agency".

Anonymous said...

BigBear--Your public is calling!

fallout11 said...

Electrolyzing hydrogen from urine (N2H4CO) requires significantly more energy input (from electricity) than you get back from fuel cell conversion of the liberated hydrogen. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is immutable....yes, there is no free lunch.
In effect, this plan takes photovoltaic power and puts it through a blender, by conversion of electricity to liquid fuel, back to electricity. Additionally, fuel cells are very, very expensive.
On the plus side, the power to weight ratio of this plan is better than for battery-operated PHEV's.

fallout11 said...

"A refrigerator-sized unit could produce one kilowatt of energy for about $5,000...."

As a side note and for comparison, 1 gallon of gasoline contains 34.7 KWh of energy, for about $2.65.
Compared with the fuel cell mentions, that is orders of tens of orders of magnitude more cost effective.

Sorry to pick this one apart, but I'm a mechanical engineer by trade, so it hits close to home when others completely discount actual engineering economy, energy balance equations, and simple chemistry in the pursuit of their latest Pollyanna technowiz self-masturbation exercise.

BigBear said...

But I like Pollyanna technowiz self-masturbation exercise.

The problem with the gasoline is that yes it is cheaper but the urine unit will provide power forever once you have purchased it whereas you have to continue buying gasoline and are dependent on supply.

The same argument can be made against solar power. I could have bought a cheap generator and a lot of gas for the price of my solar panels but then I would be reliant on the gas supply.

fallout11 said...

I'm not a disbeliever in alt power, even have a 2.1 kW (nominal) PV array on our roof. ^_^
At present grid electricity cost, however, payback period is over 47 years, and I'm dependent on mother nature's vaguarities.

The main thing to take away is that the various alt-energy "solutions" cannot be used as a plug and play replacement for fossil fuels in a profligate manner that society has become accustomed to. They're going to be expensive, limited in scale, and troublesome, and require lifestyle changes to utilize. Kunstler is right, we are not going to run DisneyWorld, interstate trucking, and the airline industry on sunshine, wind, used french fry oil, or cow pee.
BigBear you are already LIVING it, so you know better than most that the most important innovation coming is a change in mindset and personal behavior, not yet another pollyanna pipedream.