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Power Science Technology

Fuel Cells From Nanomaterials Made From Human Urine 83

Posted by timothy
from the hennig-brand-would-be-proud dept.
New submitter turning in circles (2882659) writes 'Carbon based fuel cells require carbon doped with other elements, normally platinum, for oxygen reduction reactions. Urine contains carbon with an exciting splash of nitrogen, sulfur, potassium, silicon, and so on, and you don't have to manufacture it: the stuff just comes out by itself. In an article published this week in an open journal, researchers from Korea reported a new nanomaterial for fuel cells, which they dub "Urine Carbon." Upon drying, and then heating at 1000C, and rinsing of salts, the resulting Urine Carbon porous nanostructures outperformed Carbon/platinum in electrodes.'
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Fuel Cells From Nanomaterials Made From Human Urine

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  • by LesFerg (452838) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @11:23AM (#47203223) Homepage

    I'm sure you can get some kind of medical treatment for that

    • Who the hell comes up with "You know, we should see how well using urine works for making a fuel cell."

      • Who the hell comes up with "You know, we should see how well using urine works for making a fuel cell."

        Probably the same guy who looked at a chicken and said "I'm going to eat whatever comes out of it's butt."

      • by Mathinker (909784)

        If humanity is ever going to colonize other solar systems with slower-than-light travel, it's a no-brainer that we're going to have to learn how to recycle our waste. In a closed ecosystem, it makes sense to find ways to use urine, or plants/bacteria/yeasts grown using urine, as raw material to produce essential materials for repairs.

    • I'm sure you can get some kind of medical treatment for that

      Well, that Depends.

    • I'm sure a binder clip would work just fine, try not to put it in the exact same place each time.
      And keep your hands to the sides when you remove it...
    • I think the researchers from Korea are going to suggest a jar.
  • That settles it, time to piss in someone's gas tank.
    • by Adriax (746043)

      Then you heat it to 1000C.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Joe Gillian (3683399)

        Here's my question: how hot can a methane-fuelled fire get? I just had the rather humorous (and possibly disturbing) thought of batteries made of piss heated using farts as fuel. Every man could become part of his own power source.. plus we could harvest all that methane from cow farts that is supposedly contributing to global warming.

    • by tchdab1 (164848)

      Next step: catheter and tube from driver - and passenger! - side straight into the fuel cell.
      "Got to stop off at the bar first for a couple beers, I don't have enough fuel to make it home."

  • Now there's a renewable energy source.

    I can see bars having a "pee here for the environment" campaign.

    • Yeah, people are known for their great aim in bars. You can put some guys in a room where they could piss anywhere in the room, and they would wind up pissing out the door.

  • by edibobb (113989) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @11:26AM (#47203253) Homepage
    With enough energy, you can convert water, urine, or almost any common chemical into a fuel cell and make the headlines. However, that does not make it practical. There are always the problems of efficiency, scalability, portability, and sometimes availability (as in the case of urine and bacteria). In other words, don't pee in your gas tank any time soon.
  • So the material is made porous by heating and removing salt particles. Nice! There can't be much material left after drying though, I'm curious how much the energy density of said yield would be. I did spin through the paper, I noticed the 300-400mg/L yield but not the energy density, did anyone else catch it amongst the jargon?
    • Oops! Forgot to edit start of second sentence out.
    • by LesFerg (452838)

      I'm curious how much the energy density of said yield would be. I did spin through the paper, I noticed the 300-400mg/L yield but not the energy density, did anyone else catch it amongst the jargon?

      I guess your spin through was a little too quick then. The purpose is to create a porous " electrocatalyst". Not a fuel.

      • Yes it obviously was! As I said above, thanks for clarifying that for me. It wasn't entirely clear to me in the summary. Perhaps I shall read a little more into it.
  • Sure! Give the machines some more incentive ..
  • ...the challenger, Urea from Korea!

  • Well, the Waterless No Flush Urinals will make the perfect collection device! At least as long as they can keep the idiots from throwing their cigarette butts in them! Just connect the plumbing to a collection tank instead of the sanitary sewer system!
  • namely, a lovely line from Tom Clancy concerning a black helicopter pilot where he shouldn't be without enough fuel to scat... "Son, right now I'd burn piss if I had enough."

  • .the stuff just comes out by itself.

    Well, if ((age < 2) || (age > 65))

  • There's that potassium, and phosphorus.. Both are major elements used in fertilizers for industrial agriculture, i.e. we rely on them for cheap and abundant food. So collecting and harvesting piss could become very important.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      Separating that waste stream from the other waste steams is prohibitively expensive. Baring some massive shortage of both elements that makes them so valuable that they pay people to collect their urine it's not going to be separated and when mixed with Human fecal matter the urine is useless for crops unless you want all the disease risks that go with it.

      In parts of the world where human waste is used to fertilize crops you will find infections of hepatitis, hook worms and other very nasty things are commo

      • Hepatitis is not transmitted via 'fertilizers' and hook worms only if you put the excrements on the ready to harvest fruits (and what would be the point of that?)
        The rest of your post is simply wrong ...

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      also present in feces, waste management is very poor USA compared to what it could be, squandering the easily recycled nutrients when the alternative methods of producing them are quite expensive. We don't really have shortages of resources on earth, nor even coming shortages, instead just massive wastefullness

    • by Megane (129182)
      So? RTFS. They rinse the salts and stuff out of it to keep only the carbon. Those minerals should all be in the rinse water, already partly refined. Now piss off.
      • Blaskowicz is right about the mineral source though - recycling phosphorous will probably be needed before potassium in terms of a ready source.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @12:15PM (#47203717)

    But I'm not so sure we want to be around for number two...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  • This is valuable stuff, now that it has a market use. And to think that I wrote it off as waste and was just pissing it away.

  • to patent my urine.
  • I recall reading a recipe for case-hardening iron in a Scientfic American article from 1890's. The process involved packing a crucible with iron, straw, and horse feces and urine, then heating in a furnace.
    I guess these ingredients were readily available to black smiths of the time.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      in the late 19th century standardized parts meant blacksmiths had less and less work, so more and more of them would take up shoeing horses, and of course in the first half the 20th century the automobile pretty much extinguished the career of the remaining blacksmiths by the 1960s

  • How do you accelerate the development of fuel cells as much as humanly possible? Turn it into a pissing contest!
  • North Korea just wants to see the rest of the world spend hours in the lab trying to replace platinum with pee. They're probably laughing their butts off right now.

    On a more serious note, how stable is their new fuel cell? If the electrodes need to be replaced frequently, then it won't really be any improvement. The linked article claims the electrodes are more durable, but I'd like to see someone corroborate that. This may be difficult to replicate because they used human urine, the composition of which ca

  • I would think this would work better for deflector shields than the moon swirls in the next article, but maybe the "swirlies" are related.
  • I'd say "pissash" rolls of the tongue easier than "urine carbon," but the metaphor is too disgusting.
  • There's just no way this research is not winning an IgNobel Prize. It fits the ethos: first it makes you laugh, then it makes you think.

  • This has been done before. In the 70s there was a blues band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.

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