Nigerian Girls Invent Urine Fueled Generator

Four teenagers from the Doregos Private Academy School in Lagos developed a low-cost solution to Nigeria's costly blackout problem.

Posted: 11/29/2012 01:21 PM EST

For millions, Nigeria’s chronic power outages are at best a common annoyance and at worst a costly hindrance to productivity and upward mobility. However, four teen girls invented an unconventional but free solution to the country’s power woes: a generator powered by urine.

"We noticed that many Nigerians, [those whose] businesses depend on a power supply have virtually been put out of business because of the high cost of power, so we decided to make a device that will reduce this problem. We noticed that waste products can be used to generate energy that is why we decided to experiment on urine," student Eniola Bello told RFI.

The four girls attend the Doregos Private Academy School in Nigeria’s capital Lagos where power outages occur every day, several times a day. For the girls, frequent power outages mean interruptions to activities like watching TV or reading, but for the rest of the country, the outages equal thousands in lost revenue for businesses and costly bills for those fortunate enough to own and afford gas to fill a backup generator.

The girls’ homegrown generator works by utilizing hydrogen and oxygen gas formed by urine in a container attached to the generator. Using their method, about 1 and 1/2 gallons of urine can keep the generator running for 36 hours.

"This urine is being electrolysed, releasing hydrogen and oxygen gas, and this then goes into our gas tank. Our gas tank here stores the gases, and anytime we need the gas we can open up the gas tank and release the gas and our generator is powered," Adebola Duro-Aina said.


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(Photo: Courtesy of Maker Faire Africa)

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