I'm not sure what's going on lately, but I keep coming across battery and energy technology that turns human waste and blood into power. When talking to a friend about it he said, "You're one vomit engine away from perfection!" We're high brow people.
Really, though, turning waste into power is a pretty ingenious idea. Human waste is definitely a renewable resource. On top of that, the way we dispose of it now is far from ideal. Sewage treatment uses tons of energy and water. Wouldn't it be amazing to turn our waste back into something useful instead?
The component that makes urine a good candidate for energy generation is the urea. All urine contains it in some concentration, and its chemical composition makes it easier to get at the hydrogen than with something like water.
UK chemist Shanwen Tao is developing a fuel cell that would turn urine into energy. You add the urine directly to the fuel cell, and a chemical reaction inside powers the battery.
While one pee-powered fuel cell doesn't generate much, you can string them together to get a decent amount of power. The best part? There's no need to carry fuel with you. Your body takes care of that part.
California’s Orange County Sanitation District teamed up with researchers from the University of California to create a fuel cell that converts human waste into hydrogen fuel.
The system works similarly to how power companies capture methane from landfills, but it's more sophisticated than that. According to Hybrid Cars, the technology is:
able to separate the methane into three streams of energy: one to help heat the sewage, one to generate electricity, and one for storage tanks ready for use in hydrogen cars.
Blood, Sweat, and Batteries
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are hard at work on a battery that transforms electrolytes from our sweat and blood into battery fuel.
The paper-thin battery is made from cellulose and uses nanotechnology to turn electrolytes into power. This battery is ideal for medical applications like pacemakers.
Have you guys run across battery technology that uses our bodily fluids? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by helixblue