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Posted Wed Aug 25 2010: from New Scientist:
Pee is for power: Your electrifying excretions
Urine might not pack the punch of rocket fuel, but what it lacks in energy density it makes up for in sheer quantity. It is one of the most abundant waste materials on Earth, with nearly 7 billion people producing roughly 10 billion litres of it every day. Add animals into the mix and this quantity is multiplied several times over. As things stand, this flood of waste poses a problem. Let it run into the water system and it would wipe out entire ecosystems; yet scrubbing it out of waste water costs money and energy. In the US, for instance, waste water treatment plants consume 1.5 per cent of all the electricity the country generates. So wouldn't it be nice if, instead of being a vast energy consumer, urine could be put to use. That thought occurred to Gerardine Botte, a chemical engineer at Ohio University in Athens, during a discussion in 2002 with colleagues about possible sources of hydrogen for use in fuel cells.
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