Gallery: Researchers Use Urea to Create Low-Cost Fuel Cells


Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in the United Kingdom have figured out how to use urea as a fuel for low-cost fuel cells. Fuel cells are a great form of alternative energy for all kinds of things — cars, submarines, remote power stations — but concern over the cost of hydrogen and its explosive nature keep the technology from being widely used. Using urea — which is present in all animal and human urine — instead of hydrogen could be a low cost alternative to these super low-emission systems.

Dr Shanwen Tao and his research partner Dr Rong Lan have developed the urea fuel cell system which they call the Carbamide Power System. They have just been awarded a grant of $200,000 by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council to continue their research. Fuel cells work by converting chemical energy into electricity with heat as a byproduct — hydrogen fuel cells are the most widespread and they emit water as a byproduct.

Hydrogen fuel cells also require extremely expensive membranes to create energy. Tao and Lan’s fuel cell uses a much less expensive membrane and the components are totally harmless — urea is used as fuel instead of highly flammable and expensive hydrogen. Even better, this fuel is totally renewable — just keep drinking those 8 glasses of water a day. Dr. Tao is excited about the prospects of their discovery. Tao noted that, “if this renewable material can be used as a commercially-viable and environmentally-friendly energy source then we will be absolutely delighted, and many people around the world will benefit.”

+ Youtricity

Via Physorg


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  1. Travis Moore April 18, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Is there such a thing as a direct urea fuel cell that can use a polymerized sulfur doped with potassium hydroxide and or with nickel oxide nano powder on electrodes to convert urea directly to electricity?

  2. Suman.G.R September 24, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I’m very much interested in this topic, I want to extract hydrogen from urine and by storing it by using any metal hydrides and use it as fuel for vehicles.please help me out in this regard

  3. harsh August 30, 2012 at 2:07 am

    can i hav the details…of the whole as i really like this i m working on the project of making fuel cell with the help of urine…so kindly provide me tthe details..plz help..

  4. angelop.mendez August 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    This is an amazing article. I hope nothing negative comes out of the research being done. This could be a huge step in cleaning our planet and making our bathrooms more important.

  5. 'Lung-shaped' fuel cell... August 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    […] Science and Letters in Oslo are looking to it for inspiration as they design the next generation of hydrogen fuel cells. More specifically, they are looking at the lungs — according to Signe Kjelstrup, who is […]

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