Can you believe that generating hydrogen from urine is the dream of a lifetime for some? A newly-invented catalyst can help electrolyze the urine and extract the hydrogen from it much more efficiently than from water.
Gerardine Botte from the Ohio University discovered the catalyst that could one day not only provide clean fuel for cars to run, but also help cleaning the municipal wastewater of the most abundant waste element on earth: urea.
The urea molecule is composed of four hydrogen atoms (unlike water, which only has two), but they are not so tightly bonded as they are in the H2O molecule, so splitting them apart should be a fairly easy job.
For example, to electrolyze water you need 1.23 volts applied to the cell, while urea only needs 0.37 volts.”During the electrochemical process the urea gets adsorbed on to the nickel electrode surface, which passes the electrons needed to break up the molecule,” said Botte.
To make the technology useful for sewage cleaning purposes, it has to be scaled up relatively easily, using regular electrolyzers.