back to article Boffin predicts pee-powered cars

Forget chicken-powered cars - a researcher has discovered that the key to hydrogen-powered transportation lies in taking the piss - quite literally. Dr Gerardine Botte, an Associate Professor from the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department at Ohio University, has discovered that hydrogen can be extracted from urine …

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Flame

Flamable piss

I'm pretty sure that some mornigs' piss has an alcohol content high enough to make it flamable, hence the icon.

Anonymous, just in case ...

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Joke

A whole new slant

Just think, a urine/hydrogen powered Porsche would literally be a penis extension.

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

Surely many folk have been running their cars on bee pee for years ?

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hj
Joke

title goes here

So "Drink and Drive" will be the new slogan then?

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I'm no chemist...

...but if you take out the hydrogen are you not left with something that could be NOx or carbon monoxide? Not really a great improvement over gas-guzzling cars really!

Hopefully someone who studied chemistry past GCSE will be able to put straight my naive view of chemistry - I understand QCD but say 'carboxyl functional group' to me and I'll look blankly at you.

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Bronze badge

Taking the p**

So just how much urea is there in urine? Well it's 95% water and some of the rest is salt. So the answer is not much. That's an awful lot of beer you are going to have to drink before you can produce enough hydrogen to drive home...

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Boffin

I knew that!

Childhood experiments with 240V AC and a bucket of water always went better after you'd taken a slash into the mixture. A much more vigorous reaction. But Ker-ist, what a stink. Also it's best to turn the juice off before topping up..

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Anonymous Coward

OFFS!

This is straight out of The Mitchell and Webb Situation where there was a sketch about a futurologist who predicted that "we'll all drive cars powered by wee".

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Is this surprising?

Pure water is a poor conductor of electricity.Of course adding a few more ion will allow m ore current to flow.

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Flame

What the...?

Why is this new world so retarded? What kind of ethics approval application do you have to fill in to use someone's wee? It was probably their own wee anyway. Policy makers use some bloody common sense, not every experiment involves torturing puppies!

PS. Health and Safety jobsworths can get fucked too.

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Pint

So...

“It took us some time to get clearance to work with human urine - which held up publication of the research,”

So, if publication was held, the information leaked to the press, then? They couldn´t hold it any longer?

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Thumb Up

One of the

coolest things I've ever heard.

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A trucker's best friend!

Future trucks will be fitted with hose that feeds directly into the fuel tank. No more whizzing into a bottle!

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Pint

Not in my lab.

One of our lab assistants was caught drinking the 100% ethanol from the solvents cupboard. Still, should probably still be able to power a car with it.

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Go

PeePower

Now, ain't that a pisser !!!!

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Tel
Pint

A good excuse to go out and get pissed?

It sounds like binge drinking might have a beneficial side effect after all!

I wonder though, does all the weewee produced in one day provide enough hydrogen resource to replace all the petrol used in the same period?

And will the water companies suddenly diversify into fuel station forecourts? They are the ones, after all, who have access to the relevant raw materials!

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Pint

El Reg...

....at it's best (again), & I'm not taking the - Michael!

Beer icon, because I'd better re-fuel!

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Coat

Brewers heaven!

Even on the incorrect assumption that a pint of beer results a pint of piss, which in turn makes hydrogen equivalent to a liter of petrol, most 8000 miles a year (say 45 litres of petrol a month) people would need to double or treble their beer consumption.

In fact there's about 18g (1.8%) of urea in a litre of urine. As the good lady was talking about electrolysing dissolved urea and not, presumably, breaking down the water, it looks like an 8000 miles per year driving habit will will call for at least a 150 litre beer throughput per month to keep the car running. Cheers!

Mine's the one with brewery shares in the pocket.

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Coat

Possibly the best drunk driving excuse ever...

"But occifer, I ran outta fuel and was jusht trying to fill up the tank... *hic*"

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Pint

Too expensive

So can we expect angry motorists to protest about beer taxes?

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Silver badge
Boffin

She's taking the......

"..hydrogen can be extracted from urine through electrolysis at a fraction of the cost of producing hydrogen from water."

I'm prepared to believe that this is true, since pure water is a very good insulator and you'd need a high voltage to force current through it to release hydrogen at one electrode (and oxygen at the other).

However, for commercial hydrogen production using electrolysis, you'd use a salt solution (which is very cheap) and is a much better conductor of electricity. You'd get chlorine at one electrode (that you can sell), hydrogen at the other electrode (that you want) and you leave behind a solution of sodium hydroxide (that you can process and sell).

What she's found may be true, but urine is not nice stuff to collect or work with and it would be expensive to collect in large, pure quantities, so I don't see how this will have any commercial value as an industrial process. It may get her a research grant from somewhere though, which is an good result :)

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Gold badge
Go

Staggering if true.

But how *much* less energy is needed?

And of course the obvious question.

Why did no one explore other sources earlier?

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Boffin

You have no idea...

"Presumably, then, there’s more to the process than just handing a beaker to a lab assistant and looking the other way."

You have no idea. Here in the US at least if you want to do experiments on/wth human subjects (under any circumstances) there's a f*ck-ton of paperwork and red tape to get through before they'll even *think* about letting you do it.

And for good reason; it's intended to keep researches with dubious ethics from going all "Island of Dr. Moreau" on folks.

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Joke

Pee-powered cars to save planet...

Wow, that's a relief.

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Coat

Stating the bleedin obvious....

... but has anyone read the name of the researcher?

Dr Botte !

Is it April 1st in Italy?

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Just imagine the dilema for the cops

A bloke standing on the side of the road, todger in hand, taking a slash into his ccar's piss tank.

A boon to the worlds exhibitionists.

But this also raises an interesting question? How would a woman fill the tank (or empty the tank as it were)? Prop one leg up on the side of the car?

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Silver badge

Re: I knew that!

"Childhood experiments with 240V AC and a bucket of water"

Given that Electrolysis requires DC, what experiments were those, exactly?

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Gold badge
Boffin

Note for centuries nations have done something similar

The harvesting of animal dung on a commercial scale for both fuel and the manufacture of gunpowder.

In fact with modern rules getting rid of pig slurry and cow manure seems to be getting trickier. So farmers might be quite cooperative on this.

Now if it were found that dietary changes which lowered CO2 emissions also raised Urea levels they'd be on a real winner.

And I'd like to commend Reg Hardware readers on their restraint before anyone mentioned this was all done by Dr Botte. If it had been co-authored by a Dr Butt as well I would have been very suspicious.

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Gold badge

@Covert North American Scum

OMFG, the boffins are getting their ideas from comedy now?

The Viz strip "Mickey's monkey-spunk moped" springs to mind..............

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Anonymous Coward

Nice one

"Presumably, then, there’s more to the process than just handing a beaker to a lab assistant and looking the other way."

Third keyboard this month. Gonna have to buy in bulk next time.

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Silver badge

@By Sorry that handle is already taken.

Presumably the ones using a bridge rectifier and a step down transformer...Duh....

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FAIL

Okay..

So, we have a slighlty more efficient way of getting hydrogen. Slightly.

All it requires is

A) manufacture of urea on a large scale, no doubt cancelling out the enegry benefits

B) using special toilets that separate #1 from #2 (piss is actually very bad for the environment and I remember hearing about toilets that did seperate it but..

B.2) You'll need new pipes going from ALL TOILETS to your friendly, local electrolysis centre. PLUS the infrastructure needed to get hydrogen out to fuelling stations.

or

C) you electrolyse the piss in the car, which means all the disadvantages of carrying heavy batteries with all the disadvantages of carrying a heavy combustion engine plus the disadvantages of not having any hydrogen infrastructure should you run out of piss. Fucked if you run out of battery though.

So, in conclusion kids, stop messing around with hydrogen as an alternative transportation fuel, it's a waste of time and money. Could be useful for hydrogen for dirigibles though, they won't need the equivalent of a petrol station anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

read the paper!

1) northern monkey, from the paper you can see that the products are Nitrogen gas (N2) and potassium carbonate (KC03) and hydrogen (H2)

2) frank ly, clfrom the paper you can see that it needs 0.37 volts to get hydrogen from Urea, as opposed to 1.23 to get hydrogen from water. If we ever started using hydrogen to power cars then there would be no market for the enormous amount of chlorine and hydroxide that would be produced from electrolysing brine (in my opinion at least). On the other hand, electrolysing urea means that you are removing a polutant from the environment as a side effect of producing hydrogen. Collecting the urea is also fairly simple, you would just need to install a pipe into every house in the country to collect the waste, and transport it to a collection facility, you could call the pipes "sewers".

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Silver badge
Pint

A great scoop for Terry Pratchett's ...

Harry King! (a.k.a. King of the Golden River, a.k.a. Piss Harry)

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Megaphone

@By Sorry that handle is already taken

CHILDHOOD experiments. I found that AC didn't work. Makes a hell of a mess though, and even more of a mess with certain bio-additives.

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@Max_Normal

Was that caught, or found on the floor screaming "It burns! it burnnssss..."?

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