07 September 2009

A Wee Fuel Solution

A scientist at Ohio University has developed a catalyst capable of extracting hydrogen from urine. Gerardine Botte claims the device uses significantly less energy than is needed to extract hydrogen from water and says it could power hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the near future. One of hydrogen’s biggest stumbling blocks to use as an alternative fuel is the amount of energy needed to produce it.

And then there’s the matter of distributing it. Botte says her gadget eliminates such problems because it’s small enough to integrate into an automobile. Urine is also readily available — your body produces two to three liters of it each day, and it is the most abundant form of waste on the planet. We could treat waste water while fueling our cars.

It would also be an answer for people like my mum who wants a toilet ten minutes into a ride and each hour thereafter. It would encourage car pooling as there would be more urine on tap so to speak. If you were running low on fuel and the next pump was some way ahead, each person could just swig another litre of water and that would soon sort the problem. You may also be more inclined to pick up hitch hikers if they had a sign saying "I'm busting". If you ran out of fuel in the country, you could talk nicely to any cows nearby.

Bottom line: There are so many ups to this idea, it's got to be a winner.

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