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Turning urine into biogas

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 02:09

Pee-power could be the clean energy source of the future, according to a Mexican scientist. Roselle Chen reports.

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A Mexican scientist believes he's hit upon a new way to generate energy -- using human urine. The Urine Fuel Cell produces biogas, which can help create electricity or be used as a replacement for natural gas; and is often cited as a clean and carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuels. Dr. Gabriel Luna-Sandoval said he came up with the idea by chance. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MEXICAN SCIENTIST, GABRIEL LUNA-SANDOVAL, SAYING: "I put copper electrodes, they were really just cables, inside and there was a current. I saw that it started to froth up and make bubbles but urine has a problem in that it goes down. But with more testing, which didn't affect the cell of urine, I saw there was this problem that there was a lot of froth by putting a lighter in it and saw that it lit up. I saw that there is hydrogen here with this electrolysis." Luna-Sandoval has been working on pee-powered energy for about a decade and has now patented his device. He says a liter of biogas can be produced from five liters of urine. With the average human producing over a liter of urine a day, Luna-Sandoval believes families could meet most of their energy needs using the power of pee. Although still a prototype, he plans to build a larger model to power homes. Urine is widely regarded as an untapped energy source. In 2013, scientists in the UK managed to partially charge a cell phone using microbial fuel cells that feed on the urine and generate electricity. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. IOANNIS IEROPOULOS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT BRISTOL ROBOTICS LABORATORY, SAYING: "It's an abandoned source and it's a waste product that is now being considered as a resource, which is something that is quite amazing." For Luna-Sandoval - the sky's the limit, or rather the solar system. With mankind's ambition to ultimately build settlements on another planet, Luna-Sandoval believes urine could one day be used to support life on other worlds.

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Turning urine into biogas

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 02:09