I’m not too hopeful in the use hydrogen as a replacement for oil that burns and kills our planet, but there might be hope in the future. Apparently urine can be turned into hydrogen.
Now, as Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company reports, Ohio University researcher Geraldine Botte has come up with a nickel-based electrode to oxidize (NH2)2CO, otherwise known as urea, the major component of animal urine.
Because urea’s four hydrogen atoms are less tightly bound to nitrogen than the hydrogen bound to oxygen in water molecules, it takes less energy to break them apart: Just 0.37 Volts need to be applied across the cell, against the 1.23 Volts needed to break down water.
This means the energy balance of urea-derived hydrogen could be considerably better from start to finish than projections for other so-called pathways for obtaining the highly combustible gas.
Given the early stage of this research, we’re betting that the Honda and General Motors fuel-cell researchers aren’t exactly rushing down to do deals with their local sewage plants.