Over the course of 5 and 6 November, thousands of people from tiny villages to city hubs around Africa converged on the Maker Faire Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, to show off their innovations. One of the highlights to emerge was the ingenious work by four 14-year-old school girls and their pee-powered generator.
Grassroots needs meets innovation
The girls, Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and Bello Eniola produced a generator that works by extracting nitrogen from urine to feed it into a generator to produce electricity. It’s estimated that approximately one litre of urine can produce six hours of electricity production.
UK scientists at the University of the West of England say it’s possible to produce electricity, and if the device can pass scientific scrutiny, the benefits will be huge: “The impact will enable us to think of ‘waste’ in a new way, and offers great potential for the future,” says Dr Ionnis Ieropoulos, of the university. Here’s how it works:
- Urine is put into an electrolytic cell that splits the urine into water, hydrogen and nitrogen
- The hydrogen is water filtered for purification and compressed in a gas cylinder
- The cylinder pushes the hydrogen into another cylinder of liquid borax, used to remove moisture from the hydrogen gas
- The purified and dried hydrogen is then fed into a generator
The Maker Faire Africa
The Maker Faire Africa aims to show off innovations, inventions and initiatives that solve immediate challenges and problems facing third world countries, and then works to support and develop them. In recent years, the falling price and availability of off-the-shelf electronics has made low-cost tech innovations at events like this more and more possible – allowing for home-made inventions to have real exposure and impact.