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5 Crazy-Awesome Things Powered By Pee

5 Crazy-Awesome Things Powered By Pee

Urine is a fact of life. It makes road trips difficult, stains the carpet (when pets do it), and it spawned the invention of plumbing just so we wouldn’t have to do it in the freezing cold. Pee is naturally sterile, can tell you a lot about your health, and despite the urban legends, is NOT a cure for jellyfish stings.

What you might not realize is that every time you go, you’re flushing a powerful source of renewable energy down the drain. See, your pee contains hydrogen, nitrogen and CO2, powerful substances that can be transformed into electricity using the right technology.

Read on for a bunch of cool stuff that’s already powered by pee, and neat inventions that could take this ever-present substance from waste to winning in the near future.

1. Carnival Floats – Brazil

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a massive street party with lots of alcohol. All that boozing leads to a lot of peeing, and we all know that drunk people aren’t the best at waiting in lines. As a result, public urination is a big problem during Carnival. The Electric Pee project, a joint effort of AfroReggae and JWT Brazil, aims to deploy special urinals in especially congested areas of the festival. “As the urine flows, the receptacles act like small hydroelectric plants, turning gears which create electricity,” explains Inhabitat. “The power is stored in large batteries in each electric urinal, which are then collected by AfroReggae and loaded onto their float truck. The batteries are then used to power the truck’s sound system which brings music to the street party.”

2. Off-Grid Generator – Nigeria

Pee-powered generator

In November 2012, four Nigerian teenagers rocked international headlines when they demonstrated a working a urine-powered generator at Maker Faire Africa. The machine, while very crude and not exactly safe for home use, turned a single liter of urine six hours of electricity.

3. Disposable Battery – Japan

nopopo pee powered battery

What if recharging your AA batteries required nothing but some liquid…even liquid you make yourself? According to Treehugger, the Japanese NoPoPo battery lasts 10 years and pumps out 500 milliamp-hours (mAh), which is equivalent to zinc-carbon batteries but a third of what an alkaline battery delivers.

4. Public Gardens – Anywhere

When Nature Calls, pee power, urinal

Tired of big cities that smell like pee? Designer Eddie Gandelman envisions a city where our need to relieve ourselves can also help provide more green spaces in which to relax. Gandelman created a combination public urinal-planter that turns exported waste into nutrients for growing vegetation. According to EarthTechling, the project employs three filtration materials: charcoal, crushed limestone and greensand. After filtration, the remaining urine flows into the central planter, feeding the plants.

5. Your Car – In The Future

pee-powered car

A few years ago, a scientist at Ohio University developed a catalyst capable of extracting hydrogen from urine…hydrogen that could power your car in the future. Gerardine Botte used electrolysis to break apart urine molecules, exposing the hydrogen within. “…the electrolyzer needs just 0.37 volts across the cell to oxidize the urea, according to Botte. That’s less than half the amount of energy in an AA battery and considerably less than the 1.23 volts needed to split water,” reports Wired.


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Images via Maker FaireEddie Gandelman, Japan Trend ShopRichPix & Thinkstock

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6:12AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

Great post... educational... thanks

9:32AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

haha cool

11:21AM PDT on Jul 13, 2013

piss off

1:54AM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

Off-Grid Generator – Nigeria: This has been called a hoax by several critics and other than a few pictures there has been no evidence provided that this actually works. The machine is supposed work by filtering urine into water pure enough for the hydrogen to be extracted. That hydrogen is what powers the internal combustion engine in the generator that produces electricity. The only problem with this workflow is that it’s been widely proven that it takes more energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms than the resultant hydrogen fuel is able to produce. This is why the fabled water-powered car project never really got off the ground. The choice of urine as a fuel, as we said before, seems a bit arbitrary, since urine is 95 percent water and the remaining ingredients are just a mixture of urea and minerals that don’t really have any of the properties of a useful fuel. Furthermore, if these teenage girls were even able to extract the hydrogen using spare parts, the machine itself would be incredibly explosive and unsafe. Maker Faire Africa actually admitted that this is the case.

9:58PM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

Number 1 reading :-)

11:51PM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

At least it's something there will never be a shortage of.

9:26AM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

Urine? I'M IN.

1:15PM PDT on Jun 10, 2013

Unbelievable......yet wonderful...Necessity is the Mother of Invention never meant more!!!!

11:53AM PDT on Jun 10, 2013

So what are we waiting for? :-)

6:52AM PDT on Jun 10, 2013

WOW, this is great!

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