Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin, and Bello Eniola, creators of the generator
There have been some ingenious inventions to come out of places you’d least expect, and Africa is no exception as Maker Faire Africa (Lagos, Nigeria) recently wrapped up their annual symposium for creative design in a multitude of areas. One of the more creative (ingenious really) inventions came from a group of teenage girls who created a generator that runs on hydrogen derived from urine. The generator, designed by Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and Bello Eniola, works by pouring urine into an electric cell which breaks it down to its basic components of nitrogen, water and hydrogen. The separated hydrogen then gets passed through a water filter to purify the gas, which is then sent to a gas cylinder containing liquid borax that removes any water remaining in the hydrogen gas. The hydrogen is then sent to the generator that burns the fuel and can run for approximately 6 hours using just one liter of urine!
While the girl’s urine-powered generator is truly innovative (considering the simplicity of the generator not to mention the fact that fuel is hard to come by in some parts of Africa), using bodily waste for power isn’t anything new. Back in June of this year (2012) scientists from Nanyang Technological University (located in Singapore) developed their ‘No-Mix Vacuum Toilet’ that separates both liquid and solid waste. The liquid is sent to a refining facility that breaks down the urine into its base components and are used as agricultural fertilizers, while the solid waste is sent to bio-reactors that in turn break it down. As a result, methane is released and used as a power source that can take the place of natural gas (other natural gas?) used in stoves for cooking as well as turned into electricity.
While these methods haven’t been proven in a long-term sense (mechanical break-down due to generator degradation resulting from chemical reactions i.e.: hydrochloric acid from saltwater/urea electrolysis) they do open doors for research into how abundant waste resources can be transformed into energy.