Ever thought of the possibility of using your urine to re-charge your phone battery? Did I just hear “yuck!”? But then scientists, particularly bioenergy experts, say it is possible! Scientists have discovered a technology called “urine-tricity”, a means by which you can charge your smartphone using your urine. Wondering how that works? I will tell you.
I don’t know one Nigerian who has not been disappointed by the Electricity Distribution Company responsible for providing power to various regions of the country. Oftentimes, the evenings are permeated with the noise of running generators. Most people don’t worry about the noise because at least there is power and the rooms are lit and alive. The power supply problem in Nigeria is a perennial problem and the ruling class does not care because they have alternatives.
Is Urine-tricity going to put an end to Nigeria’s Power Problem?
An estimated 6.4 trillion liters of urine is produced every year, around the world. Considering Nigeria’s ever-teeming population, a good percentage of this urine is produced by Nigerians. Scientists have continued to make efforts to recycle waste and turn it into bioenergy. These efforts have yield positive results in developed countries but that cannot be said of our dear country.
Some time in 2012, it was in the news that a group of Nigerian school girls invented a urine-powered generator. However, Gerardine Botte, a chemical engineer at Ohio University who invented the urea electrolysis process dismissed their efforts after a careful look at the process involved in the electricity generation. According to him, “What these kids are doing is taking urea electrolysis and making hydrogen and then using that hydrogen to make electricity.”
Nevertheless, one can say that urine-tricity has prospects in Nigeria. Because like the girls who made an attempt at inventing a pee-powered generator, there might be some scientist doing some underground work. As at now, not much has been done to use urine generatedpower in the country to end Nigeria’s power problem.
How does this technology work?
A study reveals that one liter of urine can generate up to six hours of electricity. Amazing right? Just imagine how that plays out in a family of eight or ten? Seems like a good bye to electricity bills, and blackout for days after a heavy downpour, right? I don’t know one Nigerian who will not leap at the sound of this.
The team which discovered the urine-tricity technology was led by Ioannis Ieropoulos of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) in Britain. They used what is known as Microbial fuel cells (MFCs). These cells contain live microbes which when urine flows through consumes it as part of their normal metabolic process. The metabolic process, in turn, releases electrons and then, the electrodes within the cell collect these electrons. When this set-up is connected to an external circuit, electricity is generated. Also, the urine used for this experiment was urine passed by a healthy individual of regular height and body weight.
According to them, the urine also had to be fresh, which means, it is not more than seven weeks old. This is just a summary of the scientific process involved in the generation of electricity from urine, what some refer to as pee-power or urine-tricity