Pee for Power
You turn on a light with the flick of a switch. You may have done it thousands of time and never given it a thought—unless you live in a part of the world where electricity is unreliable.
The Back Story
- In many parts of the world, power outages are a daily occurrence. Some places have no electric power infrastructure at all. Families that can afford it may buy a household electric generator to produce electricity when the power goes out.
- Most generators run on gasoline. Gasoline-powered generators have two major problems: gasoline is expensive and burning gasoline produces air pollution.
- In 2013, three Nigerian high-school students developed a generator that solves both problems. The generator runs on hydrogen gas produced from the water in human urine. The fuel is readily available and produces no pollution when used.
- How did the students get hydrogen from water? You can see how it’s done in the following video:
Can You Apply It?
Learn more about the pee-to-power project at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.
- Describe how to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. What type of chemical reaction is this?
- How can you identify the hydrogen and oxygen gases produced when water breaks down?
- Which produces more electricity per liter, urine or gasoline? How much more?
- Most of the electricity produced by the hydrogen generator goes into producing hydrogen fuel for the generator. What’s the point of a hydrogen generator? What is its main advantage over a gasoline generator?