We’re Number One: Pee Your Way to Carbon Neutrality

Remember when I sang the praises of ass-powered electrical generation?  Yeah, well, that’s just the half of the juice you’re flushing away.  Or drinking as part of a bizarre training regimen.  Gerardine Botte of Ohio University has been working on a method of pulling hydrogen out of urine for future fuel cells and Hindenburgs. Tell ’em Chemistry World: Botte says the idea came to her several years ago at a conference on fuel cells, where they were discussing how to turn clean water into clean power. ‘I wondered how we could do this better,’ she adds – so started looking at waste streams as a better source of molecules from which to produce hydrogen. Urine’s major constituent is urea, which incorporates four hydrogen atoms per molecule – importantly, less tightly bonded than the hydrogen atoms in water molecules. Botte used electrolysis to break the molecule apart, developing an inexpensive new nickel-based electrode […]