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article imageYoung African schoolgirls create urine-powered generator

By Nancy Houser     Nov 9, 2012 in Environment
Lagos - Located in Lagos, Nigeria, young teenage schoolgirls have created a powerful urine-powered generator. The fourth annual Maker Faire debuted the 14-and-15 year-old girls' invention. The generator provides six hours of electricity with a liter of urine.
Because of their invention, fourteen-year-olds Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin, and 15-year-old Bello Eniola are now known for developing a world-changing breakthrough.
All wastewater treatment plants use energy. Since urea is already being collected by such facilities, it makes sense to extract hydrogen from it. This is then used to generate electricity, reducing the amount of outside energy required to run the waste-water treatment process.
“What these kids are doing is taking urea electrolysis and making hydrogen and then using that hydrogen to make electricity,” Gerardine Botte, a chemical engineer at Ohio University who invented the urea electrolysis process, told NBC News when asked to comment on the generator.
The process, according to Next Web:
1. Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which cracks the urea into nitrogen, water, and hydrogen.
2. The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
3. The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
4. This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.
5. One liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity.
The electrolysis of urea that will generate the hydrogen requires an electrical input. Therefore, the urine cannot be used to create electricity in areas that do not have an existing power supply. And Africa has only 4% of the world's electricity, a serious drawback to much of the country's developments.
The Economist reports that "only 17 of Nigeria's 79 power stations, many dating from this period, are still working; the country's demand for power is an estimated 7,600 megawatts, against an actual operating capacity of 3,500MW."
Maker Faire Africa
Maker Faire Africa stands out better than most invention international fairs. It is recognized for showing off quality innovations, inventions, and initiatives that solve immediate challenges and problems, and then works to support and propagate them.
The organization Maker Faire Africa was founded by Mark Grimes (, Emeka Okafor (TED Africa), Lars Hassleblad Torress (IDEAS Global Challenge), Erik Hersman (Afrigadget) and Nii Simmonds (Nubian Cheetah). The purpose is to sharpen focus on locally generated, bottom-up prototypes of technologies that solve immediate challenges to development. According to Wikipedia, "The aim of a Maker Faire Africa is to create a space on the African continent where Afrigadget-type innovations, inventions and initiatives can be sought, identified, brought to life, supported, amplified and propagated."
Cairo  Maker Faire Africa Day 1 Oct-2011
Cairo, Maker Faire Africa Day 1 Oct-2011
Handmade Yarn Machine
Handmade Yarn Machine
Sisal Twinner Machine
Follow the Twitter search #MFA12 or @makerfairafrica to catch more images as they come through the interwebs!
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